September 23rd, 2011
12:14 PM ET

Palestinians' application for full U.N. membership submitted

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has handed the Palestinian application for statehood to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, according to a United Nations statement.

Abbas later spoke Friday afternoon at the U.N. General Assembly in New York. Below are updates on what Abbas said:

[Updated at 12:57 p.m. ET] Abbas said the Palestinians' application for full U.N. membership asks for Israel to return to its 1967 boundaries. He also appealed to "states that have not recognized the state of Palestine to do so."

The United States has pledged to veto the application should a vote occur in the body's Security Council. The United States would not be able to veto any Palestinian effort to go before the General Assembly, rather than the Security Council, to gain a lesser-than-full-member status: that of "permanent observer state."

Abbas also called for Israeli-held "prisoners of conscience" to be released.

[Updated at 12:48 p.m. ET] Abbas said his submission of a bid for statehood at the U.N. reflects "a moment of truth."

"Our people are waiting to hear the answer of the world," he told the U.N. General Assembly, adding that Israeli policies have been able to operate "above the law."

[Updated at 12:44 p.m. ET] Abbas said: "We extend our hand to the Israeli government and the Israeli people for peacemaking."

"Let us build bridges of dialogue instead of checkpoints and walls of separation," he told the U.N. General Assembly.

[Updated at 12:39 p.m. ET] Abbas said the Palestinians were ready to return to the negotiating table with Israel, provided Israel cease expansion efforts, among other concerns.

Israel has called for a return to negotiations with no preconditions.

Abbas blamed Israel for the decades-old conflict, saying the country's policies have been "aimed to entrench occupation," rather than forge a lasting peace.

"We decided to adopt the path of relative justice," he told the United Nations General Assembly, saying East Jerusalem is Palestinians' rightful capital.


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Filed under: Israel • Palestinians • United Nations
September 23rd, 2011
08:01 AM ET

Friday's live events

The question of Palestinian statehood grips the United Nations, while Congress deals with funding the government. Live is your home for political debate from around the corner and around the world.

Today's programming highlights...

8:30 am ET - GOP candidates at CPAC - Ten Republican presidential candidates are expected to address the Conservative Political Action conference in Orlando.


Filed under: Elections • Israel • Palestinians • Politics • United Nations
Abbas in the spotlight: Who is the Palestinian president?
The president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas shown this week at the United Nations.
September 21st, 2011
03:07 PM ET

Abbas in the spotlight: Who is the Palestinian president?

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is in the spotlight this week at the United Nations General Assembly where he plans to urge the U.N. to recognize an independent Palestinian state.

Americans and Europeans have for weeks been trying to restart peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. Ultimately, the U.S. and allies fear that Abbas' request will stoke already tense relations between Israelis and Palestinians, and ignite violent clashes.

Generally considered by the West to be a moderate, Abbas has been president of the Palestinian Authority since 2009. Time magazine describes him as a snowy-haired chain smoker who loves to negotiate.

Abbas is in his late 70s and has three children. His own childhood was shaken in 1948 when under British mandate, his family left their town of Safed, in what is now northern Israel. Safed is today considered one of Judaism's four Holy Cities. The young Abbas' family relocated to Syria. He took a job laying floor tiles and also taught elementary school. He went on to earn a law degree and at a college in Moscow obtained a PhD in history.

One of Abbas' first forays into politics came in 1959 when he helped found the Palestinian National Liberation Movement, more commonly known as Fatah. In the late 1990s, Abbas began serving as Yasser Arafat's spokesperson in missions to Eastern Europe and the Gulf states. He also cultivated ties to Europeans sympathetic to the cause of greater autonomy for Palestinians.

Abbas played a role in the 1993 historic peace accord between PLO Chairman Arafat and Israel Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and as part of that accompanied Arafat to the White House to sign the agreement.


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Filed under: Israel • Mahmoud Abbas • Palestinians
September 14th, 2011
09:26 AM ET

Israeli FM warns against unilateral Palestinian move

The unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state would have "dire consequences," Israel's foreign minister warned Wednesday, a day after Palestinians said they would take the proposal to the United Nations.

Avigdor Liberman did not elaborate in his comments on Israel Radio, but said previous Israeli concessions like the withdrawal from Gaza had not resulted in peace.

Frustrated with stalled negotiations with Israel, Palestinians plan to appeal to U.N. member states to recognize their territories as an independent country.

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Filed under: Israel • Palestinians
August 22nd, 2011
09:35 AM ET

Tentative Middle East cease-fire seems to be holding

A tentative cease-fire between the different militant factions in Gaza and Israel seemed to be holding on Monday.

A Hamas official said Sunday that the different factions had agreed to join a truce which, according to them, went into effect on Sunday at 9 p.m. local time. The Popular Resistance Committee, which refused to join the cease-fire Sunday, said in a news conference on Monday that "they have agreed to a temporary cease-fire for the sake of our people".

Since 9 p.m. hours on Sunday around 14 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel, the last one landing at 8 a.m., according to the Israel Defense Forces. As of 8 a.m. local time the Israeli military reports no rockets .

The last Israeli airstrike in Gaza was on Sunday night when the IDF targeted a rocket launching device.

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Filed under: Gaza • Israel • Palestinians
August 20th, 2011
03:46 PM ET

Rockets kill 1 in Israel; Hamas military wing ends truce

One person was killed and at least 12 were injured Saturday when more than two dozen rockets fired by Gaza militants slammed into Israeli cites.

It's the latest in the ongoing tit-for-tat violence between Israel and militants over the past three days.

The fatality occurred in Beer Sheva, according to Eli Bin, an emergency official in the region. Four people were seriously injured and two suffered moderate wounds when rockets struck a house and car. An unknown number of trauma injuries were being transported to the hospital, Bin said.

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Filed under: Gaza • Israel • Palestinians
On the Radar: Volcanic ash spreads; new tornado threat; Netanyahu address
Ash billows from the Grimsvotn volcano in Iceland on Tuesday in an image from a NASA satellite.
May 24th, 2011
05:45 AM ET

On the Radar: Volcanic ash spreads; new tornado threat; Netanyahu address

Volcanic ash: Volcanic ash from an Icelandic eruption is expected to reach London's Heathrow airport - the world's busiest international air travel hub - around lunchtime on Tuesday, Europe's air traffic control organization said.

Concentration of ash is expected to be low and it's not yet clear if Heathrow flights will be canceled.

The ash cloud is forecast to cover all of British airspace by 1 a.m. Wednesday morning, Britain's weather agency, the Met Office, said Tuesday.

Ash will be densest over Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern England, the Met Office said. Heathrow is in the south.

Joplin tornado: As residents in hard-hit Joplin, Missouri, try to recover from one of the deadliest U.S. tornadoes on record, the National Weather Service warns the danger might not be over.

The weather service warns there was a 45% chance of another tornado outbreak – with the peak time between 4 p.m. and midnight Tuesday – over a wide swath, including parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Nebraska and Missouri, including Joplin.

Netanyahu speech:Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will lay out his vision of a settlement with the Palestinians in a speech to Congress Tuesday morning.

His speech follows an appearance Monday night where he told the main U.S. Jewish lobby that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict persists because the Palestinians "refuse to end it."

In his remarks to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Netanyahu said Israel wants peace, "because we know the pain of terror and we know the agony of war."

But, he added, "this conflict has raged for a nearly a century because the Palestinians refuse to end it. They refuse to accept the Jewish state."

He also repeated his argument that Israel's pre-1967 borders were "indefensible."

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Filed under: Air travel • Aviation • Iceland • Israel • Joplin • Missouri • Natural Disasters • Palestinians • Tornadoes • Travel • Volcano • Volcanoes • Weather
Pew: U.S. image largely unimproved in Middle East after 'Arab Spring'
President Barack Obama is scheduled to make a major address Thursday on U.S. policy toward the "Arab Spring" uprisings.
May 17th, 2011
09:37 PM ET

Pew: U.S. image largely unimproved in Middle East after 'Arab Spring'

The United States' image in four Middle Eastern nations and the Palestinian territories largely doesn't appear to have improved during anti-government uprisings that have shaken regimes in the region, a survey from the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project found.

Fewer people in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon view the United States favorably now than in 2010, while small gains were seen in Egypt - where an uprising toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak earlier this year - and the Palestinian territories, according to the survey.

Pew said America's image also dipped in the two other predominantly Muslim nations that were surveyed: Pakistan and Indonesia.

The results of the survey, which was taken between March 21 and April 26, come as U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to deliver on Thursday a highly anticipated address on U.S. policy toward the "Arab Spring" uprisings that have shaken autocratic regimes across North Africa and the Middle East.


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Filed under: Egypt • Indonesia • Jordan • Lebanon • Pakistan • Palestinians • Politics • Turkey
Hamas claims responsibility for Israel attack, announces cease-fire
April 7th, 2011
08:03 PM ET

Hamas claims responsibility for Israel attack, announces cease-fire

Hamas says it and other Palestinian factions have agreed to stop firing into Israel after Hamas claimed responsibility for shooting a missile that struck an Israeli bus Thursday.

The Hamas strike critically wounded a teenage boy on his way home from school. After not claiming responsibility for the attack earlier in the day, Hamas on Thursday night sent a message to reporters saying the strike was in retaliation for the killing of three Hamas leaders last weekend.

After the attack Thursday, and the firing of numerous mortars into Israel, the Israel Defense Forces "targeted nine terror-activity sites in the Gaza Strip," the IDF said in a news release. A military spokeswoman said later that IDF aircraft targeted three smuggling tunnels in southern Gaza in addition to the nine targets mentioned earlier.

The additional IDF strikes hit shortly after Hamas' cease-fire was scheduled to take effect, according to Hamas' Interior Ministry.

said it will stop after talking with other Palestinian factions following , according to Hamas' Interior Ministry.

February 12th, 2011
10:04 AM ET

Palestinians to hold elections, authority official says

The Palestinian Authority will hold legislative and presidential elections no later than September, a senior Palestinian Authority official said on Saturday.

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Filed under: Middle East • Palestinians
Chief Palestinian negotiator resigns
Longtime chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has submitted his resignation, another negotiator says.
February 12th, 2011
09:40 AM ET

Chief Palestinian negotiator resigns

Saeb Erakat has submitted his resignation as the chief Palestinian negotiator, according to Mohammed Shtayeh, Palestinian negotiator and a Fatah Central Committee member.

Erakat had previously said that he would resign his post if an investigation into the leak of Palestinian negotiating documents aired by the Al-Jazeera television network proved that the source of papers came from his office.

The so-called Palestine Papers suggested that Palestinian negotiators offered to give up large swaths of East Jerusalem to Israel during talks dating back to 2008 and that they had been willing to offer much larger concessions in private than they were publicly acknowledging.

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Filed under: Israel • Middle East • Palestinians • World
Report: Palestinians agreed to give up most of East Jerusalem
Wafa, the Palestinian Authority's news agency, quoted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as saying Sunday that he did not know where Al-Jazeera got its information and that there was nothing new to report.
January 23rd, 2011
11:12 PM ET

Report: Palestinians agreed to give up most of East Jerusalem

Palestinian negotiators agreed to give up large swaths of East Jerusalem to Israel during negotiations dating back to 2008, the Al-Jazeera network said Sunday, suggesting Palestinians have been willing to offer much larger concessions in private than what was previously acknowledged in public.

The report is based on a trove of nearly 1,700 internal documents the network said it had obtained. Al-Jazeera did not disclose the source of the material, nor did it say how the documents came into its possession. It said it will be releasing what it has between Sunday and Wednesday of this week.

The papers, some of which were posted on the network's website, shed new light on the details of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from 1999 through last year. They could not be immediately verified by CNN.

The documents outline meetings between Israeli, Palestinian and U.S. officials in which Palestinian negotiators offered in 2008 to relinquish claims on nearly all of the settlements built in East Jerusalem.

The offer was flatly rejected by the Israeli side, according to the posted documents.

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Filed under: Israel • Palestinians
November 25th, 2010
04:48 PM ET

Residents: Mosque destroyed in Palestinian village

A mosque and other structures were demolished by bulldozers in a Palestinian village in the West Bank early Thursday, according to village residents.

The Israeli Civil Administration said the demolished structures did not have "the required permits in a fire area, risking the lives of the population."

Residents of the village of Khirbet Yarza said they awoke Thursday to the sounds of bulldozers as Israeli personnel moved into the area. A mosque, seven metal structures, a tent and three animal sheds were demolished, residents said.

"Almost 200 military personal and 20 military jeeps and three bulldozers arrived this morning around 5:30 to the village and started demolishing structures and the village's sole mosque," Ahmad Abu Sa'ed, a Palestinian official and resident of the area, told CNN.

The village is home to some 200 Palestinians who largely depend on livestock and farming for their livings, he said.


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Filed under: Israel • Palestinians
October 5th, 2010
12:26 PM ET

Syria charges teen blogger with espionage

Tal al-Mallouhi's supporters have created Facebook pages demanding her release.

A teen blogger who had been held for nine months in Syria’s Duma women’s prison has been charged with espionage, according to several media outlets.

Syrian Intelligence Services summoned Tal al-Mallouhi, 19, in December to interrogate her about her blog, which contains poetry and social commentary on local and Arab affairs, the Syrian Human Rights Committee reported.

“Thereafter she was arrested and has not returned to her family since, nor do they know her place of detention. Shortly afterwards, intelligence apparatus went to her home and seized her personal computer,” the committee reported in August.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch said CDs, books and other personal belongings were confiscated from her parents’ house in Homs as well, and until this week, her parents were given no explanation for her arrest.


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Filed under: Facebook • Human rights • Justice • Palestinians • Syria • Technology • Uncategorized
October 3rd, 2010
05:00 AM ET

Palestinian shot, killed by Israeli border patrol officer

A Palestinian worker was shot and killed early Sunday morning during a struggle with an Israeli border police officer, an Israeli Police spokesman said.


Filed under: Israel • Palestinians
September 28th, 2010
02:49 PM ET

Netanyahu and Abbas to meet next month, Israeli PM says

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris, France, next month at French President Nicolas Sarkozy's invitation, Netanyahu said Tuesday.

"I hope my good talks with Abu Mazen will continue - this is essential," Netanyahu said, using a nickname for Abbas.

"I believe with my whole heart that it is in our power to reach a framework agreement within a year and change the history of the Middle East," he said.

Netanyahu is due to meet U.S. special envoy George Mitchell on Wednesday.


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Filed under: France • Israel • Palestinians
September 27th, 2010
11:40 AM ET

Construction restarts at West Bank settlement sites

New construction began at settlement sites in the West Bank Monday, just hours after the expiration of a 10-month Israeli government moratorium on building.

CNN witnessed new settlement construction in two locations in the West Bank.

Bulldozers and other construction equipment were used at the settlements of Revava and Ariel, and a steady flow of construction equipment and vehicles were transported on tractor trailers on West Bank highways connecting various settlements.

The new building casts a shadow over the continuation of face-to-face peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians that began this month.


Filed under: Israel • Palestinians
September 26th, 2010
07:33 PM ET

Israel's moratorium on settlement building in West Bank ends

Israeli settlers cheered Sunday's expiration of a moratorium on building new settlements in the West Bank as Israel's prime minister urged Palestinians not to walk away from newly resumed peace talks over the lapsed restrictions.

Israel "is ready to hold continuous contacts in the coming days in order to find a way to continue the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement from his office shortly after the moratorium expired at midnight Sunday (6 p.m. ET). He asked Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to "stay in the talks and, with me, continue on the road towards peace."


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Filed under: Israel • Palestinians
September 25th, 2010
09:03 PM ET

Mideast talks on the clock with settlement controversy

The clock is ticking as the United States seeks a way to keep Middle East peace talks from falling apart over this weekend's end to an Israeli moratorium on settlement construction.

The issue of settlement construction is highly controversial, and the Palestinians have said a restart by the Israelis would be reason enough to end talks.


September 14th, 2010
10:48 AM ET

In Middle East talks, core issues now on the table

The arduous Middle East peace talks continued on Tuesday in Egypt, where officials from Israel and the Palestinian Authority "have begun a serious discussion on core issues," a top U.S. diplomat said.

"They have agreed to begin first on working to achieve a framework agreement for permanent status. That work is now well under way," said U.S. special envoy George Mitchell.


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Filed under: Egypt • Hillary Clinton • Israel • Palestinians
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