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Lebanese Pro-Western Coalition Claims Victory over Hizbullah

By VOA News

The majority leader in Lebanon's parliament, Saad al-Hariri, Lebanon's pro-Western coalition has claimed victory in Sunday's parliamentary election over a Hizbullah-led alliance backed by Syria and Iran. Hariri said there were no winners or losers and that the only winners were Lebanon and democracy.

It is unclear how many seats were won by each coalition. Hizbullah and its allies had hoped to reverse the pro-Western coalition's small majority in the 128-member outgoing parliament.

Netanyahu to Give 'Major' Speech on Mideast Peace Plan

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told his Cabinet Sunday that he will lay out his plan for Middle East peace in a major policy speech next week. He said that Israel seeks peace with the Palestinians and the Arab world, while "trying to reach as much of an understanding as possible with the United States."

Tensions have risen between the United States and Israel, after Netanyahu rejected repeated demands by President Barack Obama to halt construction in Jewish settlements.

The prime minister insists building in existing settlements would continue to accommodate "natural growth." He also has not endorsed U.S. calls for the creation of a Palestinian state, which he sees as a serious threat to Israel's security. Netanyahu gave no indication that his opposition to those key issues would change.

Palestinian analyst Sam Bahour doubts Netanyahu will make serious concessions without further pressure from the United States, Europe and the United Nations. "It is time for the international community to bring international law back into the equation. Israel must be held to the rules of international law."

But Netanyahu also faces pressure at home, from his right-wing coalition that opposes a settlement freeze and the creation of a Palestinian state. So the Prime Minister is walking a tightrope: He wants to preserve Israel's all-important relations with the U.S., but he also wants to keep his fractious government intact.

Clinton Soft-Pedals on Fighting Iranian Attack on Israel


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Sunday that she thinks "there would be retaliation" from the United States in the event of an Iranian attack on Israel but stressed the need to prevent a nuclear arms race.

During her campaign last year for the presidential nomination, she was more assertive, stating that an Iranian "attack on Israel would incur massive retaliation from the United States."

In response to an ABC News' interviewer's question concerning what the U.S. would do if Israel came under attack from Iran, Clinton stated, "I think there would be retaliation. And I think part of what is clear is, we want to avoid a -- a Middle East arms race which leads to nuclear weapons being in the possession of other countries in the Middle East." She would not, however, repeat her statement from 2008 that the U.S. would be a part of such retaliation.

Her position has changed in the past three months. ABC's "This Week" host journalist George Stephanopoulos pointed out to her on Sunday that she expressed skepticism in March about the possibility that diplomacy would stall Iran's nuclear program.

In the interview Sunday she stated, "Well, I am someone who's going to wait and see. I mean, I -- I want to see what the president's engagement will bring…. I think there's an enormous amount of potential for change, if the Iranians are willing to pursue that."

When pressed further by the questioner, Clinton added, "The idea that we could have a diplomatic process with Iran means that, for the first time, we would actually be sitting at a table across from Iranians authorized by the supreme leader to talk with us about a whole range of issues.

Her views reflect the tone of President Barack Obama's statement in Cairo last week that Iran has a right to nuclear power, if supervised, and that his government is willing to work with Iran without any preconditions.

Report: Saudi King Asks Obama to Impose Solution


Arab patience is wearing thin in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Saudi King Abdullah bin Abd al-Aziz told President Barack Obama during their meeting in Riyadh last Wednesday. According to a report in Saudi daily al-Hayat, the Saudi leader urged Obama to become actively involved in the process, to the point of "imposing a solution" on the two sides "if necessary."

Insider sources told the paper that Obama could not hide how impressed he was with King Abdullah and that he "listened intently to everything said." Saudi Arabia and other Arab states are seeking to have Washington take a tougher line with Israel both on accepting Palestinian statehood and freezing construction in the settlements.

Abdullah said that a solution of the conflict would be the "magic key" to all issues in the Middle East. "We want from you a serious participation to solve the Palestinian issue and impose the solution if necessary," the paper quoted the Saudi monarch as telling Obama.

"We Arabs want to devote our time to building people, building a generation that is capable of handling the future through knowledge and action, we have a genuine desire for peace," Abdullah said.

Cairo Sources: Israelis to Dig for Oil in Sinai


The Egyptian parliament has seen some temperamental discussions in recent weeks after members of the Muslim Brotherhood opposition movement said that franchises for oil digging in Sinai had been given to two Israeli companies.

According to a report published last week by Arab newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi, Parliament Member Ali Laban of the Muslim Brotherhood claimed to have obtained documents revealing that the Egyptian government franchises had been given to a company be the name of Exploration and to the Merhav Group owned by businessman Yossi Meiman.

The Egyptian parliamentarian added that the deals signed with the Israeli companies were secretly agreed on between the Egyptian Oil Ministry and the Israeli Ministry of National Infrastructures.

Laban argued that the Egyptian government was endangering the country's national security by allowing two "Zionist" companies access to Sinai. He demanded that the Egyptian government led by Ahmed Nazif reveal all secret agreements signed with Israeli companies related to digging oil in Sinai.

Sources in the Egyptian ruling party said in response that the Muslim Brotherhood movement was making a great fuss about nothing, as part of its campaign against Nazif's government. The same claim has been made by the government in regards to the legal battle initiated by opposition members against the ongoing export of natural gas to Israel.

An official source in the Merhav Group denied the Arab newspaper report. "As a policy, Merhav does not operate in the oil drilling and digging area," the spokesperson said, adding that "the Merhav Group does not even have a license to drill."

It should be noted that Egyptian law prevents foreigners from utilizing the natural resources located in the Sinai area. The Ministry of National Infrastructures said in response that it was unfamiliar with the matter.

12 Israeli Arabs Charged in 2005 Lynching of Soldier


Police charged 12 Israeli Arabs from Shefaram Sunday in the death of soldier Eden Natan-Zada, who killed four Arabs in 2005 before being lynched by an angry Arab mob.

Zada had fled the army several weeks before he boarded a bus that arrived in the Arab-Israeli city and opened fire at short range. The driver and three passengers - two of them women - were murdered, and four additional Arab Israelis were wounded.

Citizens on the bus disarmed Zada and then police arrived and handcuffed the 19-year-old. A Druze and Arab mob surrounded the bus, murdered Zada and injured several policemen before security forces could bring the situation under control. The State Prosecution will charge seven of the Arabs with attempting to murder Zada. The other five are charged with attacking police under serious circumstances.

"Without minimizing the seriousness of Zada's actions," the prosecution said, "the events that led to his death are an affront to the law. In a lawful state, someone who takes the law into his own hands and attacks someone who has already been captured and neutralized, even if he committed a depraved act, must stand trial."

How Would Anne Frank Look if She Had Lived to See 80?

By Ha'aretz

The Anne Frank Trust U.K. has released a photo showing how the Holocaust diarist Anne Frank would have looked had she lived to see her 80th birthday, the Daily Telegraph reported on Sunday.

The picture, which was released ahead of Anne Frank's 80th birthday this Friday, uses age progression technology to depict the iconic diarist as she may have looked had she not perished from typhus and starvation at the age of 15 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945.

Frank, one of the Holocaust's enduring symbols, hid for two years along with her family in an Amsterdam attic, until they were all arrested by the Nazis following an information tip.

Her diary, which was written over the course of her time in hiding, was first published in Dutch in 1947 and has since been translated into 60 languages. The diary remains one of the most candid and chilling accounts of Jewish life during the Holocaust.

Dr. Eva Schloss, Anne's half-sister and an Auschwitz survivor, was unsettled by viewing the picture of her childhood playmate for the first time on Thursday. "I must say I was a bit shocked... I don't really know why," she said, adding that the picture was of "a beautiful lady, very gentle, very kind-looking with this gentle smile."

However, Schloss believes the loss of her mother and sister and Anne's experiences in Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen would have left more of a mark if she had indeed lived. "Personally I think she would have been more bitter and disappointed. I don't see anything of this in the picture," Schloss said.

The aged image was produced by a Michigan firm called Phojoe which has worked with U.S. police on dozens of missing persons cases.

Water Company to Dig 14 Kilometer Tunnel to Jerusalem


The Mekorot Israeli Water Company has begun plans to build a 14 kilometer long tunnel that will bring water to Jerusalem from desalination plants on the Mediterranean coast.

The tunnel, which will reach a depth of 350 meters and cost 2.5 billion shekels, would be Jerusalem's fifth water system and should provide for the capital's water needs until 2065.

To dig the tunnel, Mekorot purchased a unique 150 meter long tunnel boring machine, which will work non-stop to dig the unprecedented Israeli tunnel. The project is expected to take seven years to finish.

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