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Tunsia's Essebsi, Pillar of Old Guard Seeks a Comeback

Beji Caid Essebsi, an 87-year-old pillar of Tunisian politics under the country's first president and his dictatorial successor, is making a comeback after his Nidaa Tounes won Sunday's parliamentary election.

But while Essebsi served as premier after the 2011 overthrow of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 and led the country toward free elections, his detractors accuse this member of the erstwhile inner circle of wanting to take Tunisia back to the old ways.

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Israel Denies Barring Palestinians from Israeli Buses

An Israeli official denied Tuesday the existence of a blanket ban on Palestinians sharing buses with settlers in the occupied West Bank, after the Jewish state was accused of racial segregation.

"There is no prohibition on traveling on buses with Israelis," a senior source at the defense ministry wrote in response to a query from AFP.

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U.N. Libya Envoy 'Seriously Concerned' over Unabated Fighting

The U.N. envoy to Libya expressed serious concern Tuesday about violence in the country, calling again for a ceasefire as a car exploded outside a police station in the eastern city of Benghazi.

Libya has been rocked by fighting between militias in the west and in Benghazi, where troops are trying to dislodge Islamists who control most of what was the cradle of the 2011 uprising that ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

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Libya PM Says Ready for Talks with Militia Foes

Libya's internationally recognized Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani said Wednesday he was ready to talk to militias who control most of his country if "all sides" made concessions.

Thani's government took refuge in the remote eastern town of of Tobruk in August after Islamist-led militia seized the capital Tripoli and then set up a rival administration.

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Morocco Arrests Three 'IS Jihadists'

Morocco has arrested three men -- a Frenchman, a French-Moroccan and an Algerian -- accused of planning to join the Islamic State jihadist group, the interior ministry said on Tuesday.

The French-Moroccan and the Frenchman were detained on Monday after allegedly "engaging in activism and propaganda" including disseminating press releases and video recordings "apologizing for terrorist acts," the MAP state news agency said, quoting a ministry statement.

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U.N. Security Council to Meet on Israeli Settlements

The U.N. Security Council will hold an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss Israeli plans to build more Jewish settlements in Arab east Jerusalem, diplomats said.

The urgent talks were requested by Jordan following a letter from Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour, who called on the 15-member council to "address this crisis situation in occupied east Jerusalem."

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Hope Dies Last for Kurdish Wife Awaiting Missing Husband

Caught between a slim hope and agonizing despair, Kurdish refugee Neriman waits in Turkey for news of her husband who disappeared five months ago fighting jihadists and is feared to be held in an Islamic State (IS) dungeon.

Muhammed, 38, went missing in the early days of the Islamist offensive on the Syrian border town of Kobane, now the subject of a brutal battle between IS militants and Kurdish fighters.

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Netanyahu Slams U.S., EU Settlement Criticism

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hit back Tuesday at foreign attacks of plans for more than 1,000 new Jewish homes in east Jerusalem, saying the criticism was "detached from reality".

"I've heard the claim that our construction in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem distances peace," he said in remarks released by his office.

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Peshmerga Head for Syria's Kobane to Fight IS

Heavily armed Kurdish peshmerga fighters set off from their base in northern Iraq Tuesday to support militia forces defending the Syrian border town of Kobane from the Islamic State group.

Military trucks loaded with weapons departed from the base northeast of the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital Arbil bound for the besieged town on the Turkish frontier, an AFP correspondent said.

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'Free' Tunisia Polls Offer Arab Spring Ray of Hope

Foreign observers on Tuesday praised Tunisia's landmark "free" elections, after the Islamists conceded defeat in a vote that raised hopes of a peaceful transition in the birthplace of the Arab Spring.

The Islamist Ennahda party, which had steered the North African nation through the aftermath of the 2011 revolution, congratulated its secular rival Nidaa Tounes which it said would be the largest party in parliament.

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