Ahad, 1 Mei 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

The Star Online: World Updates

Russia says NATO may be targeting Gaddafi

Posted: 01 May 2011 07:26 AM PDT

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that NATO could be targeting leader Muammar Gaddafi and his family, after Libyan officials said his youngest son and three grandchildren were killed in an air strike.

Russia has been an outspoken critic of the Western military alliance's intervention in Libya.

EDITOR'S NOTE: PICTURE TAKEN ON GUIDED GOVERNMENT TOUR A missile which the Libyan government said was from a coalition air strike is seen in the house of Saif Al-Arab Gaddafi, son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, in Tripoli April 30, 2011. (REUTERS/Louafi Larbi)

Earlier, Russian parliament member Konstantin Kosachev told Interfax news agency the attack was proof the coalition was not protecting civilians, as mandated by the United Nations.

"We have serious doubts about statements by the coalition members that attacks on Libya are not intended to physically eliminate Gaddafi and his family," the ministry said in a statement.

NATO denied targeting Gaddafi or his family in the Saturday evening bombing, but said it had launched air strikes on military targets. Libyan officials said there had been an "assassination attempt".

Libyan government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim said Gaddafi's youngest son Saif al-Arab, 29, was killed in the attack along with three of Gaddafi's grandchildren.

Russia's Foreign Ministry echoed its plea of a week ago for an immediate ceasefire and the "beginning of a political settlement without any preconditions".

"Moscow is treating the reports about civilian casualties with growing concern," it added.

The Libyan rebels and NATO have rejected Gaddafi's offer for a ceasefire, saying it lacked credibility.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has criticised the Western countries enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya and said they have gone beyond the limits of a U.N. Security Council resolution designed to protect civilians.

Russia holds the power of veto as a permanent member of the Security Council but abstained in March in a vote on a resolution authorising force to protect civilians.

(Reporting by Amie Ferris-Rotman; Editing by Alison Williams)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Israel halts cash to Palestinians after Hamas deal

Posted: 01 May 2011 06:55 AM PDT

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel has suspended tax transfers to the Palestinians, its finance minister said on Sunday, fearing the money will be used to fund Hamas after President Mahmoud Abbas struck a unity deal with the Islamists.

Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (R) leaves a mosque after Friday prayer in Gaza City April 29, 2011. (REUTERS/Suhaib Salem)

The Palestinian Authority (PA), led by U.S.-backed Abbas, asked foreign powers to stop Israel from blocking the transfers, which make up 70 percent of its revenues. A senior Palestinian official said Israel, by its action, had "started a war".

Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said he had suspended a routine handover of 300 million shekels ($88 million) in customs and other levies that Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinians under interim peace deals.

In an interview on Army Radio, Steinitz said Israel feared the money would go to fund Hamas, an Islamist militant group that runs the Gaza Strip and whose charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.

Israel had threatened sanctions last week in response to Abbas's surprise announcement of a unity deal with Hamas that envisages the formation of an interim government and elections later this year.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said the PA was "in contact with all international influential forces and parties to stop Israel from taking these measures", the official WAFA news agency reported.

"Threats ... will not deter us from concluding our reconciliation process. It is our policy and we must work harder to end our divisions as soon as possible," added Fayyad.

The PA is also heavily dependent on aid from donors including the United States, which has said its future assistance will depend on the shape of a new Palestinian government, expected to be formed under the unity agreement.


In public remarks to the Israeli cabinet, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed his opposition to the unity pact and said the reconciliation should worry "all those throughout the world" who aspire to Middle East peace.

"Peace is possible only with those who want to live in peace with us, and not with those who seek to destroy us," said Netanyahu, who travels to Britain and France later this week for talks with their leaders.

Palestinian leaders have been invited by Egypt to Cairo for a three-day ceremony starting on Monday that will end with the signing of the unity agreement, Palestinian officials said.

Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah said it could take up to six weeks to form a new government. He said it would be made up of independents with no connection to Abbas's Fatah movement or Hamas, and foreign states should have no reason to boycott it.

Hamas is shunned by the West over its refusal to recognise Israel, renounce violence and accept the interim peace accords.

U.S.-backed Israeli-Palestinian talks on a permanent peace agreement were revived in September but quickly fizzled after Netanyahu refused to extend a limited building moratorium in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, territory Palestinians want as part of a future state.

Abbas has said he would return to negotiations only if construction in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas Israel captured in a 1967 war, was halted. Netanyahu has said that is an unacceptable precondition for talks.

The tax transfers provide the PA, which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank, with $1 billion to $1.4 billion annually. Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian official, said that by withholding the money, "Israel has started a war even before the formation of the government".

Steinitz noted that Israel had held back tax revenues in the past, during a Palestinian uprising that began in 2000.

(Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta and Tom Perry in Ramallah, writing by Dan Williams and Ori Lewis; editing by Mark Trevelyan)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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