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Abbas: U.N. Bid Forced on Palestinians by Israeli Refusal to End Occupation

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday the Palestinians' bid to win U.N. backing for statehood was forced upon them by Israel's refusal to halt settlement building and end its occupation.

"We are going to the United Nations because we are forced to, it is not a unilateral action," he said in a speech in Arabic in Istanbul, where he is meeting Palestinian diplomats from around the world.

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U.N. Alarmed by Possible Crimes Against Humanity in Syria

U.N. special advisers on human rights have said that violations reportedly committed by security forces in Syria may qualify as crimes against humanity.

Francis Deng, the special adviser to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the prevention of genocide and Edward Luck, the special adviser on the responsibility to protect, said Friday that Syrian security forces have reportedly continued to kill civilians and make arbitrary arrests.

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Parliament, Cabinet Prioritize Maritime Border Demarcation by Preparing Draft Laws

The recent dispute between Lebanon and Israel will be a top priority for the Lebanese parliament when it meets on Aug. 3 and 4 and a main concern for the government in its effort to prevent the Jewish state from launching an aggression on Lebanon’s oil and gas fields.

As Safir newspaper said Friday that MPs from major parliamentary blocs could be tasked with preparing a draft-law that confirms Lebanon’s rights on the fields in the contested areas.

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Hof Reportedly in Beirut to Prevent Rise of Maritime Shebaa Farms, U.S. Embassy Denies

U.S. official Frederic Hof is making routine visits to Beirut to follow up the dispute between Lebanon and Israel on their maritime borders, Western diplomatic sources in Beirut said Friday.

The sources told As Safir daily that Hof is visiting Lebanon along with cartographers in an expression of Washington’s interest in solving the feud over oil and natural fields and setting the stage for possible U.S. investments in the sector in the future.

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Feltman: I Have Been Told that Search is Underway to Find Hariri Murder Suspects

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said that he had been informed that a search is underway for the four suspects in ex-Premier Rafik Hariri’s assassination case.

In an interview with al-Hurra TV, Feltman said that the search for the four Hizbullah members against whom arrest warrants were issued by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon was “the responsibility of the Lebanese government.”

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Yemen Republican Guards Kill Protester in Taez

Yemeni Republican Guards shot dead one protester and wounded three in the second-largest city of Taez on Thursday, medics said.

The Guards opened fire as thousands of people protested against the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in central Taez, a flashpoint city south of the capital Sanaa, according to organizers.

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Israel Refuses to Apologies to Turkey over Flotilla

Israel will not "take responsibility" for the deaths of nine Turkish nationals by apologizing to Ankara over its botched 2010 raid on a ferry heading for Gaza, a senior cabinet minister said Thursday.

"We are not ready to apologize as apologizing is taking responsibility," Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon told reporters in Jerusalem.

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ElBaradei ‘Most Popular’ Choice for Presidency on Facebook

Former U.N. nuclear watchdog Chief Mohamed ElBaradei is the most popular choice for next Egyptian president, according to an army survey conducted on Facebook, state media reported on Wednesday.

The survey, which was launched a month ago on Facebook, asked members to rate their favorite for the country's top job, in an exercise criticized as unrepresentative.

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FAO Appeals for Aid for 12 Million People in Horn of Africa

Twelve million people in the drought-hit Horn of Africa region need emergency aid, the U.N. food agency said on Wednesday, appealing for $120 million to help desperate farmers.

"Around 12 million people in the Horn of Africa are currently in need of emergency assistance," the Food and Agriculture Organization said in a statement, adding that hundreds of people are dying every day in the crisis.

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U.N. Declares Famine in Two Parts of Southern Somalia

The United Nations said Wednesday that famine has hit two parts of rebel-held Somalia, due to a severe drought affecting more than 10 million people in the Horn of Africa.

"The United Nations declared today that famine exists in two regions of southern Somalia: southern Bakool, and Lower Shabelle," a statement by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for Somalia said.

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