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At Davos, Saudi Arabia says curbing oil dependency a priority

Saudi Arabia is working to reduce its reliance on oil exports, Economy Minister Faisal Al-Ibrahim said Wednesday, as the Middle East powerhouse sent one of the largest delegations to the Davos summit to make its case.

Despite its goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2060, the country remains hugely dependent on crude oil exports that have powered its growth for decades, raising doubts about its potential for an economic makeover any time soon.

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Jordan protests to Israel after envoy blocked from holy site

Jordan has summoned the Israeli ambassador to Amman to protest a move by Israeli police to block the Jordanian envoy from entering a volatile holy site in Jerusalem. The incident quickly escalated tensions between the neighbors and reflected the heightened sensitivity around the sacred compound under Israel's new ultranationalist government.

Jordan's Foreign Ministry said its ambassador to Israel, Ghassan Majali, was blocked from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, the third-holiest site in Islam. The site, sitting on a sprawling plateau also home to the iconic golden Dome of the Rock, is revered by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and by Jews as the Temple Mount.

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EU lawmakers to vote after scandal suspect makes plea deal

European Union lawmakers are set to vote Wednesday on a candidate to replace a disgraced former parliament vice president, after a key suspect in the cash-for-influence corruption scandal rocking the assembly made a plea bargain with prosecutors, raising the prospect that more names might surface.

Former parliament vice president Eva Kaili was removed from her post after she was taken into custody early last month facing charges of corruption, money laundering and membership of a criminal organization.

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UN: Cost is new obstacle to oil transfer from Yemen tanker

The rising cost of purchasing or leasing a vessel that can hold more than 1 million barrels of crude oil now in a rusting old tanker off the coast of war-torn Yemen is the latest obstacle to resolving the grave threat of massive environmental damage from a possible oil spill or explosion, the U.N. said Tuesday.

U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said the availability of very large crude oil tankers "has decreased in the past six months, basically due to events having to do with the war in Ukraine."

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Saved from death after sailing from Lebanon, Syrian refugees face deportation

On New Year's Eve, a small boat carrying more than 230 would-be migrants, most of them Syrians, broke down and began to sink after setting sail from the northern coast of Lebanon.

Since the collapse of Lebanon's economy in 2019, an increasing number of people -- mostly Syrian and Palestinian refugees but also Lebanese citizens -- have tried to leave the country and reach Europe by sea. The attempts often turn deadly.

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Armenian museum reopens in Jerusalem's Old City

A hundred years after taking in scores of children whose parents were killed in the Armenian genocide, a 19th-century orphanage in Jerusalem's Armenian Quarter has reopened its doors as a museum documenting the community's rich, if pained, history.

The Mardigian Museum showcases Armenian culture and tells of the community's centuries-long connection to the holy city. At the same time, it is a memorial to around 1.5 million Armenians killed by the Ottoman Turks around World War I, in what many scholars consider the 20th century's first genocide.

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French jihadist killed in Syria clashes, his group says

A French jihadist has been killed fighting Syrian regime forces in northwestern Syria, his faction announced.

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Nations express 'deep concern' at Israeli punitive measure

More than 90 countries have expressed "deep concern" at Israel's punitive measures against the Palestinian people, leadership and civil society following a U.N. request for an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice on the legality of Israeli policies in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem.

In a statement released by the Palestinians, the signatories called for a reversal of the Israeli measures, saying regardless of their position on the General Assembly's resolution, "we reject punitive measures in response to a request for an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice."

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Israel deports Italian after Bethlehem raid

Israeli authorities said Tuesday they had deported an Italian woman detained in an earlier military raid in the Bethlehem area of the occupied West Bank.

Stefania Costantini was arrested Monday during an incursion by Israeli forces into Dheisheh refugee camp, in the southern West Bank, Israel's Shin Bet domestic security agency said.

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Yemen rebels, Saudis in back-channel talks to maintain truce

Amid Yemen's longest-ever pause in fighting — more than nine months — Saudi Arabia and its rival, the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, have revived back-channel talks, hoping to strengthen the informal cease-fire and lay out a path for a negotiated end to the long civil war, according to Yemeni, Saudi and U.N. officials.

The quiet is fragile, with no formal cease-fire in place since a U.N.-brokered truce ended in October. It has been shaken by Houthi attacks on oil facilities and fiery rhetoric from Yemen's internationally recognized government, allied with Saudi Arabia, which complains it has so far been left out of the talks. Lack of progress could lead to a breakdown and a renewal of all-out fighting.

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