Middle East News

  • Sweden, after IKEA tit-for-tat, hopes Israel ties will recover

    Sweden's foreign minister said Friday she hoped ties with Israel would recover after Stockholm's decision to recognise the state of Palestine led to an unusual exchange involving IKEA furniture. Margot Wallstroem was speaking exclusively to AFP one day after Sweden became the first EU member in…

    AFP
  • Judge won't close hearing in Islamic State case

    CHICAGO (AP) — A federal judge on Friday denied a government request to partially close a detention hearing for a 19-year-old suburban Chicago man who authorities say violated U.S. law by trying to travel to Syria to join Islamic State militants.

    Associated Press
  • Analysis: In Syria, no good options for West

    UNDATED (AP) — With the U.S.-led assault on the Islamic State group, the world community is acting in Syria, but not in the Syrian civil war. When it comes to the issue that has undermined the region — the survival or fall of Syrian President Bashar Assad — there is still no plan.

    Associated Press
  • Italy PM picks Paolo Gentiloni as new foreign minister in surprise choice

    ROME (Reuters) - Prime Minister Matteo Renzi appointed Paolo Gentiloni, a close ally and former communications minister, to be Italy's new foreign minister on Friday, in a surprise decision. Gentiloni, who was sworn in on Friday night by President Giorgio Napolitano, replaces Federica Mogherini,…

    Reuters
  • Muslim men over 50 pray at Jerusalem's Aqsa mosque amid tight security

    By Luke Baker JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Muslim men over 50 prayed at the Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem's Old City on Friday amid intense security, a day after Israel closed all access to the sacred compound for the first time in more than a decade following violence on the streets. More than 1,000 Israeli…

    Reuters
  • Israel presents maritime version of 'Iron Dome'

    LE BOURGET, France (AP) — Israel's "Iron Dome" is heading to the seas, the maker of the rocket-blocking defense system says.

    Associated Press
  • Air strikes fail to stem flow of foreign fighters to Syria: report

    Foreign fighters continue pouring into Syria at a rate of more than 1,000 a month, a pace that has not changed despite the US-led air campaign against Islamic State jihadists, the Washington Post reported late Thursday. "The flow of fighters making their way to Syria remains constant, so the…

    AFP
  • Israel pledges to reopen Jerusalem flashpoint

    Israel shut the Al-Aqsa mosque compound Thursday then promised to reopen it, after clashes in east Jerusalem where police killed a Palestinian accused of trying to murder a hardline rabbi. Police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP the shrine would open early Friday "for dawn prayers, after midnight"…

    AFP
  • Sweden recognises Palestinian state, Israel recalls envoy

    Sweden on Thursday officially recognised the state of Palestine, becoming the first EU member in western Europe to do so, prompting Israel to recall its ambassador to Stockholm. We're choosing the side of the peace process," Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem told reporters as she…

    AFP
  • Clashes erupt as Israeli police kill Palestinian suspected of shooting Jewish far-rightist

    By Luke Baker JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli police on Thursday shot dead a 32-year-old Palestinian man suspected of having tried hours earlier to kill a far-right Jewish activist, leading to fierce clashes in East Jerusalem and fears of a new Palestinian uprising. The Al-Aqsa compound, or Temple…

    Reuters
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  • Syrian air strikes kill over 200 civilians in 10 days: monitor

    BEIRUT (Reuters) - Bombing runs by the Syrian air force over the past 10 days have killed at least 221 civilians, a third of them children, a group monitoring Syria's civil war said on Thursday. The intensifying offensive by President Bashar al-Assad's forces has heightened concerns among his…

    Reuters
  • Sweden recognizes Palestinian state, hopes will revive peace process

    By Simon Johnson STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The Swedish government officially recognized the state of Palestine on Thursday and said there were signs European Union states would follow its lead. The move drew praise from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and criticism from Israel, and has displeased…

    Reuters
  • Jerusalem on edge after police kill Palestinian gunman

    Clashes raged in east Jerusalem Thursday after Israeli police shot dead a Palestinian accused of trying to kill a Jewish hardliner, as Al-Aqsa mosque compound was closed for the first time in decades. Israel said its closure of the flashpoint shrine, which is holy to Jews and Muslims alike, was a…

    AFP
  • Amnesty: Libyan militias committing war crimes

    CAIRO (AP) — Amnesty International said rival militias and armed groups in Western Libya are committing "mounting war crimes" with impunity.

    Associated Press
  • Australia passes laws cracking down on foreign fighters

    SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia passed laws on Thursday aimed at preventing young people from becoming radicalized and going to fight in overseas conflicts such as those in Iraq and Syria, where scores of Australians have joined militant groups. Last month, the United Nations demanded that all states…

    Reuters
  • Libya militias commit 'mounting war crimes': Amnesty

    Pro-government and rebel militias vying for control of western Libya are committing war crimes including torturing detainees and targeting civilians, Amnesty International said Thursday. Libya is being rocked by fighting between militias in the west and in second city Benghazi, where troops are…

    AFP
  • Palestinians urge UN to demand Israel end settlements

    The Palestinians urged the UN Security Council on Wednesday to demand that Israel immediately reverse plans to build more Jewish settlements, at an emergency meeting called to address tensions in east Jerusalem. The 15-nation council met for urgent talks at Jordan's request after Israel announced…

    AFP