EU stands by 2-state solution for Palestinian-Israel peace

Thu, 2016-12-29
ID: 
1483032376837561300

BRUSSELS: The European Union has joined the outgoing US administration in defending the two-state solution as the best way to achieve lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
A spokeswoman for the 28-nation bloc reiterated the EU’s support for the two-state solution on Thursday, the day after US Secretary of State John Kerry tore into Israel for settlement-building.
EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic says Kerry’s remarks “all send one key message: The international community does not give up on peace in the Middle East.”
Kocijancic added: “The only way to end the conflict is through a two-state solution negotiated between the parties.”
In a farewell speech, Kerry defended President Barack Obama’s move last week to allow the UN Security Council to declare Israeli settlements illegal, a move that caused an extraordinary diplomatic spat. 

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Germany frees only suspect in Christmas market attack

Thu, 2016-12-29
ID: 
1483029778027329800

BERLIN: German police Thursday freed a Tunisian man initially believed to be an accomplice in the Christmas market attack, as details emerged of how security services underestimated the threat posed by suspected jihadist killer Anis Amri.
Before plowing a truck into the Christmas market killing 12 people, the 24-year-old Anis Amri had reportedly sent a selfie and a chilling text message reading: “My brother, all is well, according to God’s will. I am now in a car, pray for me my brother, pray for me.”
Investigators had thought the recipient of these messages was a 40-year-old compatriot of Amri’s and arrested him in Berlin on Wednesday.
But a spokeswoman for the federal prosecution service, which handles terrorism cases, admitted on Thursday that the man detained was “not the suspected contact of Anis Amri.” 
“He has therefore been released from detention,” Frauke Koehler told reporters, pledging that “the investigation into further accomplices or possible people who knew… will continue at full speed.”
She also said that authorities considered authentic a video message released last Friday, in which Amri is seen swearing allegiance to the head of the Daesh group, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.
Koehler said the pistol Amri used to fire at an Italian police officer before he himself was shot dead in Milan last Friday had the same .22 calibre as the bullet fired inside the lorry cabin.
Ballistic experts were still checking whether Amri used the same handgun in Milan and in Berlin, where he is thought to have shot dead the registered Polish driver of the truck, Lukasz Urban.
The spokeswoman added that the exact cause or time of death of Urban, who is due to be buried in Poland Friday, still could not be determined, but that he was killed “shortly before” the market attack.
The autopsy report was expected in early January, Koehler said, while denying media reports that his corpse bore stab wounds.
Koehler confirmed that the 40-ton truck came to a rest after 70-80 meters (230-260 feet) thanks to its automatic braking system that activates when impacts are detected, likely “preventing even worse consequences.”

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Russia says does not rule out “terrorist act” in Black Sea jet crash

Thu, 2016-12-29
ID: 
1483009355755943800

MOSCOW: Russian authorities said on Thursday they had not ruled out that a “terrorist act” could have caused the crash of a military plane into the Black Sea on Sunday, but said it was only one of the theories under consideration.
“The was no explosion on board,” said Sergei Bainetov, the Russian Air Force’s head of flight safety who heads a government commission investigating the crash, which killed 92 people. 
“But this isn’t the only type of terrorist act … It could have been any type of mechanical impact, so we don’t rule out a terrorist act,” Bainetov said.

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Russia says does not rule out “terrorist act” in Black Sea jet crash

Thu, 2016-12-29
ID: 
1483009355755943800

MOSCOW: Russian authorities said on Thursday they had not ruled out that a “terrorist act” could have caused the crash of a military plane into the Black Sea on Sunday, but said it was only one of the theories under consideration.
“The was no explosion on board,” said Sergei Bainetov, the Russian Air Force’s head of flight safety who heads a government commission investigating the crash, which killed 92 people. 
“But this isn’t the only type of terrorist act … It could have been any type of mechanical impact, so we don’t rule out a terrorist act,” Bainetov said.

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Russian military outraged by French satirical magazine

Thu, 2016-12-29
ID: 
1483007841425869000

MOSCOW: The Russian military is condemning cartoons about the Russian military plane crash published by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov described the cartoons as “excrements,” saying in Thursday’s statement that “it is humiliating for a normal person even to pay attention to this labored filth.”
Sunday’s crash of a Syria-bound Russian plane killed all 92 people on board. It was carrying members of the world-famous Russian army choir to a New Year’s concert at a Russian military base in Syria.
One of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons depicts a singer in the falling aircraft wailing ‘aaaa’ with inscription: “The repertoire of the Red Army Choir is expanding,” while another voices sardonic regret that Russian President Vladimir Putin wasn’t inside. 

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Russian military outraged by French satirical magazine

Thu, 2016-12-29
ID: 
1483007841425869000

MOSCOW: The Russian military is condemning cartoons about the Russian military plane crash published by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov described the cartoons as “excrements,” saying in Thursday’s statement that “it is humiliating for a normal person even to pay attention to this labored filth.”
Sunday’s crash of a Syria-bound Russian plane killed all 92 people on board. It was carrying members of the world-famous Russian army choir to a New Year’s concert at a Russian military base in Syria.
One of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons depicts a singer in the falling aircraft wailing ‘aaaa’ with inscription: “The repertoire of the Red Army Choir is expanding,” while another voices sardonic regret that Russian President Vladimir Putin wasn’t inside. 

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Relations between Obama, Netanyahu camps hit rock bottom

Thu, 2016-12-29
ID: 
1483001161425732500

HONOLULU: It took eight years of backbiting and pretending they got along for relations between President Barack Obama’s administration and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to finally hit rock bottom.
Though they’ve clashed bitterly before, mostly notably over Iran, the two governments seemed farther apart than ever after a speech Wednesday by Secretary of State John Kerry and last week’s United Nations resolution.
The key question for the Obama administration, newly willing to air grievances with Israel on live television, is why now?
“We cannot, in good conscience, do nothing and say nothing when we see the hope of peace slipping away,” Kerry said in a speech that ran more than an hour. 
Yet in just over three weeks, Obama will no longer be president, Kerry will no longer be secretary of State, and the US will have a new leader under no obligation to embrace any of what Kerry said. President-elect Donald Trump has assured Israel that things will be different after Jan. 20, when he’s to be inaugurated, and lamented how the Jewish state was “being treated very, very unfairly.”
Kerry took pains to voice America’s staunch commitment to Israel’s security and support for its future, and to detail US complaints about Palestinian leadership and its failure to sufficiently deter violence against Israelis. He laid out a six-point framework for a potential peace deal that it will be up to the next US government to try to enact, if it chooses to do so.
The White House has portrayed Obama’s decision to break with tradition by abstaining — rather than vetoing — a UN Security Council resolution declaring Israeli settlements illegal as a reaction forced by other countries that brought it up for a vote.
The White House has also acknowledged that Obama had long considered the possibility of taking some symbolic step before leaving office to leave his imprint on the debate. For much of the year, his staff pored over options that included a UN resolution outlining principles for a peace deal and a presidential speech much like the one Kerry gave Wednesday. Yet there was reluctance to act before the US election, given the way it would have thrust the Israeli-Palestinian issue into the campaign.
Kerry acknowledged Trump appears to favor a different approach. Yet frustrated by years of Israeli actions he deemed counterproductive for peace, Obama appeared to have decided it was better to make his administration’s views known while still in office, even if it risked a blockbuster clash with America’s closest ally.
In his speech, Kerry tore into Israel for settlement-building, accusing Netanyahu of dragging Israel away from democracy. He defended the move to allow the UN vote, the spark that set off an extraordinary and deepening diplomatic spat between the US and its closest Mideast ally.
“If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic, it cannot be both, and it won’t ever really be at peace,” Kerry said
Shortly after, Netanyahu appeared on camera in Jerusalem and suggested he was done with the Obama administration and ready to deal with Trump. The Israeli leader faulted Kerry for obsessing over settlements while paying mere “lip service” to Palestinian attacks and incitement of violence.
“Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by foreign leaders,” Netanyahu said.
Trump wouldn’t say whether settlements should be reined in. But he told reporters Israel was being “treated very, very unfairly by a lot of different people.”
In a nod to Netanyahu’s concerns that Obama would take more parting shots, Kerry seemed to rule out the possibility Obama would support more UN action or, even more controversially, recognize statehood.
The U.S, the Palestinians and most of the world oppose Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in 1967 and claimed by the Palestinians for an independent state. But Israel’s government argues previous construction freezes didn’t advance peace and that the settlements — now home to 600,000 Israelis — must be resolved in direct talks Israelis-Palestinian talks.
While Israel’s Arab population has citizenship rights, the roughly 2.5 million Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank do not, and most in annexed east Jerusalem have residency rights but not citizenship.
Kerry said a future deal would have to ensure secure borders for Israel and a Palestinian state formed in territories Israel captured in 1967, with “mutually agreed, equivalent swaps.” He said both countries must fully recognize each other, ensure access to religious sites and relinquish other existing claims. Kerry also called for assistance for Palestinian refugees.

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Relations between Obama, Netanyahu camps hit rock bottom

Thu, 2016-12-29
ID: 
1483001161425732500

HONOLULU: It took eight years of backbiting and pretending they got along for relations between President Barack Obama’s administration and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to finally hit rock bottom.
Though they’ve clashed bitterly before, mostly notably over Iran, the two governments seemed farther apart than ever after a speech Wednesday by Secretary of State John Kerry and last week’s United Nations resolution.
The key question for the Obama administration, newly willing to air grievances with Israel on live television, is why now?
“We cannot, in good conscience, do nothing and say nothing when we see the hope of peace slipping away,” Kerry said in a speech that ran more than an hour. 
Yet in just over three weeks, Obama will no longer be president, Kerry will no longer be secretary of State, and the US will have a new leader under no obligation to embrace any of what Kerry said. President-elect Donald Trump has assured Israel that things will be different after Jan. 20, when he’s to be inaugurated, and lamented how the Jewish state was “being treated very, very unfairly.”
Kerry took pains to voice America’s staunch commitment to Israel’s security and support for its future, and to detail US complaints about Palestinian leadership and its failure to sufficiently deter violence against Israelis. He laid out a six-point framework for a potential peace deal that it will be up to the next US government to try to enact, if it chooses to do so.
The White House has portrayed Obama’s decision to break with tradition by abstaining — rather than vetoing — a UN Security Council resolution declaring Israeli settlements illegal as a reaction forced by other countries that brought it up for a vote.
The White House has also acknowledged that Obama had long considered the possibility of taking some symbolic step before leaving office to leave his imprint on the debate. For much of the year, his staff pored over options that included a UN resolution outlining principles for a peace deal and a presidential speech much like the one Kerry gave Wednesday. Yet there was reluctance to act before the US election, given the way it would have thrust the Israeli-Palestinian issue into the campaign.
Kerry acknowledged Trump appears to favor a different approach. Yet frustrated by years of Israeli actions he deemed counterproductive for peace, Obama appeared to have decided it was better to make his administration’s views known while still in office, even if it risked a blockbuster clash with America’s closest ally.
In his speech, Kerry tore into Israel for settlement-building, accusing Netanyahu of dragging Israel away from democracy. He defended the move to allow the UN vote, the spark that set off an extraordinary and deepening diplomatic spat between the US and its closest Mideast ally.
“If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic, it cannot be both, and it won’t ever really be at peace,” Kerry said
Shortly after, Netanyahu appeared on camera in Jerusalem and suggested he was done with the Obama administration and ready to deal with Trump. The Israeli leader faulted Kerry for obsessing over settlements while paying mere “lip service” to Palestinian attacks and incitement of violence.
“Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by foreign leaders,” Netanyahu said.
Trump wouldn’t say whether settlements should be reined in. But he told reporters Israel was being “treated very, very unfairly by a lot of different people.”
In a nod to Netanyahu’s concerns that Obama would take more parting shots, Kerry seemed to rule out the possibility Obama would support more UN action or, even more controversially, recognize statehood.
The U.S, the Palestinians and most of the world oppose Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in 1967 and claimed by the Palestinians for an independent state. But Israel’s government argues previous construction freezes didn’t advance peace and that the settlements — now home to 600,000 Israelis — must be resolved in direct talks Israelis-Palestinian talks.
While Israel’s Arab population has citizenship rights, the roughly 2.5 million Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank do not, and most in annexed east Jerusalem have residency rights but not citizenship.
Kerry said a future deal would have to ensure secure borders for Israel and a Palestinian state formed in territories Israel captured in 1967, with “mutually agreed, equivalent swaps.” He said both countries must fully recognize each other, ensure access to religious sites and relinquish other existing claims. Kerry also called for assistance for Palestinian refugees.

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Sanctions will hit Russia hard after cyberattack, says US leader

Author: 
AFP, Reuters
Thu, 2016-12-29
ID: 
1482969920254373100

RIGA/VIENNA: A US senator said on Wednesday that Russia and President Vladimir Putin could expect sanctions after cyberattacks during the US presidential election in November.
“You can expect that the Congress will investigate the Russian involvement in our elections and there will be bipartisan sanctions coming that will hit Russia hard, particularly Putin as an individual,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said in the Latvian capital. Russian officials have denied accusations of interference in the election won by Donald Trump.

OSCE confirms being victim
Meanwhile, the International observer body the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) confirmed on Wednesday being the victim of a “major” cyberattack.
“Early November the OSCE became aware of a major information security incident,” OSCE spokeswoman Mersiha Causevic Podzic told AFP via e-mail.
The attack “compromis[ed] the confidentiality” of the OSCE’s IT network and put “its integrity at risk,” although the organization was still able to operate, she said.
According to French daily Le Monde, which first reported the incident, a Western intelligence agency believes that Russian hackers group APT28 was behind the attack.
This group, also known as Pawn Storm, Sofacy and Fancy Bear, is believed to be behind other high-profile cyberattacks and to be linked to Russia’s security services, Le Monde said.
The OSCE declined to comment on this, saying only that “the way in which the attacker accessed the OSCE was identified, as have some of the external communication destinations.”
The organization has its origins in the Cold War but after 1991 it expanded and now has 57 member states including the United States, Russia and Ukraine.
The Vienna-based OSCE currently has some 700 monitors keeping on the eye on the conflict in eastern Ukraine and is also active in monitoring elections and media freedom.

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Men in legal net for crushing bear to death

Author: 
Reuters
Thu, 2016-12-29
ID: 
1482969920254373000

MOSCOW: Russian investigators said on Wednesday they had opened a criminal case into a group of men who filmed themselves crushing a bear to death by repeatedly driving over it in off-road vehicles in the Siberian tundra.
A video posted on YouTube on Monday, apparently shot on a mobile phone, showed men in two heavy trucks shouting “Crush him! Crush him!” and poking the bear as it struggled to rise from the snow.
The video, which has since been removed from YouTube, was widely circulated by Russian media and caused a public outcry.
Investigators in the Sakha Republic, in northeast Siberia, said they had opened a criminal investigation into the incident.
They said they were looking at whether the men were guilty of causing the death of an animal by treating it sadistically, a charge that carries a maximum jail term of two years.
The men caught on camera were shift workers driving vehicles that belonged to a exploration company prospecting for resources in the mineral-rich region, investigators said.
“There should be real jail time for this sort of crime!” Sergei Donskoi, Russia’s minister for natural resources and the environment, wrote on social media.
“We’ll make sure these villains get the most serious punishment.”

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