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Tue. March 3, 2015 EDITOR'S PICKS :  
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Palestinian Authority to Receive $100 Million from Arab League Monthly

Arab foreign ministers meeting in Doha on Sunday have apparently agreed to finally provide $100 million to the Palestinian Authority each month to help compensate for its ongoing cash shortage. The funding was first authorized last March at a meeting in Baghdad where it was termed a “safety net.” The resolution passed on Sunday called for the “immediate implementation” of the March resolution, but there were still no details offered. Both the International Monetary Fund and World Bank have warned of the impending $1.5 billion deficit in the PA’s budget that leaves a significant gap between donor contributions and expenditures. In retaliation for the PA’s United Nations gambit, where it ventured outside the parameters of the Quartet-brokered peace process to gain non-member status from the General Assembly, Israel froze the monthly transfer of some of the tax and tariff revenue it collects and turns over to the PA pursuant to the Oslo Accords. Palestinian officials claim the Israeli move pushes the monthly shortfall to about $240 million. The ministers also discussed holding another donors’ conference.

Judges and Prosecutors from Northern Syria Latest to Jump Ship

Nine judges and prosecutors from the northern Syrian city of Adlib became latest officials to jump ship and join the opposition when they posted a video on Sunday urging others to end their support of President Bashar Al-Assad. There has been a long succession of defectors, beginning with military officers and soldiers, and including public officials since the fighting erupted in March 2011. During that time, more than 42,000 Syrians have been killed according to figures kept by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. On Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Serge Lavrov moved to correct any impression that his nation is moderating its position which has been blamed for preventing any substantive international action to end the carnage. Accusing unnamed diplomats of behaving in an “unscrupulous” matter, distorting the facts, Lavrov said his country’s participation in talks going on in Geneva, where US and Russian envoys are meeting with United Nations envoy Brahimi, were based on the premise that there will be no call for Assad to step down.

Netanyahu Bashes Abbas for Failing to Condemn Meshaal Call to “Free the Land of Palestine…”

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has charged that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ failure to condemn the speech made by Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Gaza proves the PA head “is striving for unity with the same Hamas that is supported by Iran.” Speaking to a massive crowd estimated to be more than 200,000 strong celebrating the “victory” over Israel in the recent week-long hostilities, Meshaal declared that, “Palestine is ours from the [Jordan]river to the [Mediterranean] sea and from the south to the north,” describing territory that includes the state of Israel. Netanyahu also chided Abbas for not condemning the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel. Abbas is apparently unmoved by Netanyahu’s remarks. On Monday, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported that the PA has sanctioned holding a public celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Hamas’ presence in the West Bank  at the city of Nablus on Thursday.

Morsi Calls on the Army to Maintain Order Through Election

Egypt’s army has been ordered by President Morsi to maintain the peace between now and the national referendum scheduled for December 15. The vote will be to ratify the new constitution which is already being condemned by the opposition for the exclusion of non-Islamists in the drafting process and its problematic stance on issues of religious law and human rights, especially the rights of women. Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians have been protesting in the streets since Morsi declared his own decrees to be immune to oversight and grabbed other sweeping powers. Following days of unrest, the president backed-off his decree, but the protests continued with the focus being on the referendum. Morsi backers have also been in the streets and the two groups have clashed violently. On Monday, Morsi apparently tried to assuage protestors with word that he suspended a tax increase on a number of items, including cigarettes and beer.

Lebanese Army Deployed to End Fighting between Pro- and Anti-Assad Forces in Tripoli

The Lebanese army has been deployed throughout the northern city of Tripoli in order to restore calm and prevent further clashes between those supporting Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and those supporting his opponents. The latest violence in the nation’s second-largest city left behind a casualty count that included 17 dead and more than 80 wounded. Lebanese residents have crossed into Syria to take part in the fighting, triggering sectarian responses back home.






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