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Tuesday, Apr 21st

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Israeli gov't gave East Jerusalem lands to rightist groups, bypassing law

Silwan neighborhood of East JerusalemThe Israel Lands Administration is transferring properties in the Silwan neighborhood and the Old City of Jerusalem to right-wing groups Elad and Ateret Cohanim for low prices, without issuing a tender as required by law, a Haaretz investigation has found.

The state and the groups involved concealed the transactions and refused to give any information about them. At the end of a lengthy legal struggle conducted by left-wing activist Dror Etkes, the court decided to have the ILA release only part of the information, to prevent the properties' identification.

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New E.U. rules let Iran import, export oil and gas, breaking from U.S. policy

EU rules defy US embargoThe United States and Europe have worked cooperatively on Iran policy since President Obama took office, but a small crack might have begun to open over sanctions that are beginning to pinch ordinary Iranians.

The European Union issued regulations this week that went well beyond a U.N. Security Council resolution passed in June, outlining tough restrictions on the sale of equipment and technology to the Iranian oil and gas industry, as well as on investment in those sectors. But the regulations - unlike legislation passed by the U.S. Congress - allow for the import and export of oil and gas to the Islamic Republic.

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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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