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Knesset panel approves controversial bill allowing towns to reject Arab residents

Knesset panel approves bil to reject Arabs from joining townsThe Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill which gives the right to absorption committees of small communities in Israel to reject candidates if they do not meet specific criteria.

The bill has sparked wide condemnation and many believe it to be discriminatory and racist, since it allows communities to reject residents if they do no meet the criteria of "suitability to the community's fundamental outlook", which in effect enables them to reject candidates based on sex, religion, and socioeconomic status.

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Indonesian tsunami kills 108, hundreds missing

Tsunami in Indonesia A tsunami that pounded remote islands in western Indonesia following an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra killed more than 100 people, officials said on Tuesday, and hundreds more were missing.

The 7.5 magnitude quake hit 78 km west of South Pagai, one of the Mentawai islands, late on Monday. Local legislator Hendri Dori Satoko told Metro TV the latest toll was 108 dead and 502 missing. Most buildings in the coastal village of Betu Monga were destroyed, said Hardimansyah, an official with the regional branch of the Department of Fisheries.

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Iran Is Said to Give Top Aide to Karzai Cash by the Bagful

Iran giving cash to Karzai aideOne evening last August, as President Hamid Karzai wrapped up an official visit to Iran, his personal plane sat on the airport tarmac, waiting for a late-running passenger: Iran’s ambassador to Afghanistan.

The ambassador, Feda Hussein Maliki, finally appeared, taking a seat next to Umar Daudzai, Mr. Karzai’s chief of staff and his most trusted confidant. According to an Afghan official on the plane, Mr. Maliki handed Mr. Daudzai a large plastic bag bulging with packets of euro bills. A second Afghan official confirmed that Mr. Daudzai carried home a large bag of cash.

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Israeli presence on Palestinian land 'irreversible'

Israeli presence on Palestinian land 'irreversible'A UN human rights rapporteur has said continued settlement construction will probably make Israel's occupation of Palestinian land irreversible. Richard Falk said the peace process aimed at creating an independent, sovereign Palestinian state therefore appeared to be based on an illusion.

He said the UN, the US and Israel had failed to uphold Palestinians' rights. Israeli officials said Mr Falk's report on the Palestinian territories was biased and served a political agenda.

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Palestinian school set on fire, vandalized with 'regards from the hills' graffiti

settlers set fire to Palestinian school warehouseThe warehouse of a Palestinian school near Nablus was set on fire and vandalized on Wednesday morning with Hebrew graffiti reading "regards from the hills."

Israeli security forces received a complaint from Palestinians early Wednesday that a girls' school near Nablus in the northern West Bank was vandalized and the IDF sent officers to investigate. The fire appeared to have caused minor damage.

The incident appears to be the latest action in a campaign that extremist settlers, who live on hilly outposts nearby, call the "price tag."

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Netanyahu still wary of razing six West Bank outposts slated for demolition in 2004

Israeli settler outpost in West BankPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that his cabinet needed more time to decide when and how to dismantle certain illegal West Bank outposts, due to the "political implications" involved.

The government "needs time to consider its priorities" with regard to these outposts, Netanyahu said ahead of a High Court of Justice deliberation on the matter. The court last year ordered the state to explain why it had not evacuated six illegal West Bank outposts - Givat Assaf, Ma'aleh Rehavam, Givat Haroeh, Mitzpeh Yitzhar and Mitzpeh Lachish - that were slated for evacuation in 2004.

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Israel provokes Palestinians and US by going ahead with new settlements

Benyamin NetanyahuIsrael provoked both the US and the Palestinians today by announcing plans to build 238 new housing units in East Jerusalem, a move that throws into doubt already fragile peace negotiations.

The 238 houses are in Pisgat Ze'ev and Ramot, both in East Jerusalem and both with predominantly Israeli residents. The Israeli government regards both as part of Israel but the Palestinians, and almost all of the international community, see them as illegal, built on Palestinian land occupied by Israeli in 1967.

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