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November 29, 2012 | By Paul Richter
UNITED NATIONS -- The United Nations General Assembly voted Thursday to slightly enhance the status of the Palestinian territories at the international organization, a controversial gambit that conveys world recognition for beleaguered Palestinians. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas won 138 of the assembly's 193 votes, including those of some key European states, for his proposal to have the territories' standing upgraded to “nonmember observer state” from “nonmember observer entity.” The new status theoretically opens the way for Palestinians to press their interests through U.N. organizations, but it remains unclear how aggressively Abbas will embrace a strategy that risks devastating financial retaliation from the United States and Israel.
November 28, 2012 | By Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times
JERUSALEM - Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is virtually certain to win passage Thursday of a United Nations General Assembly resolution upgrading the status of the Palestinian territories from "observer entity" to "nonmember observer state" in the international body. But he won't have much time to bask in the diplomatic victory. This month's eight-day clash between Israel and the Islamist militant movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip provided fresh momentum for Abbas' U.N. campaign while also raising the stakes for what was once seen largely as a symbolic step to jump-start peace talks and rattle Israel into making concessions.
November 25, 2012 | By Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times
GAZA CITY - In the wake of its eight-day clash with Israel, Hamas will seek $1 billion in reconstruction aid from the Arab world and international community to help rebuild the Gaza Strip, the group's deputy foreign minister said Sunday. Hamas believes the brief conflict, which left 162 Palestinians and six Israelis dead, reshaped the power dynamic between Hamas and Israel, according to Ghazi Hamad, who is seen as one of the organization's moderate voices. Israel says it dealt a crushing blow to the Islamist militant group.
November 24, 2012
Responding to Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab's Op-Ed article Tuesday calling Israel's actions against the Gaza Strip a "failed strategy," reader Elliott Oring of Long Beach wrote in a letter to the editor published Thursday: "Israel's military response to Gaza is not a failed strategy because it is not a strategy at all. It is a tactic, a tactic to get Hamas to stop lobbing rockets into Israel. There is no long-term strategy that will prove successful until Hamas decides it is no longer interested in destroying Israel.
November 23, 2012 | By Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times
JERUSALEM - Soon after the cease-fire took effect this week between Israel and Hamas, another truce ended: The agreement among candidates in Israel's upcoming elections not to campaign during the crisis. Analysts said it probably was too much to ask for the political cease-fire to last much longer. "The War has Started," said a front page headline in Friday's leading Yediot Aharonot newspaper, referring to the barely couched maneuvering for advantage. Some question whether there was ever a break in the politicking.
November 23, 2012 | By Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times
GAZA CITY - The Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah are intense rivals that control different turf and employ contrary strategies against Israel, but they have managed in their separate ways to put the Palestinian drive for statehood back on the international agenda. The eight-day conflict between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip raised the profile of the Palestinian issue, bringing U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and a stream of Arab diplomats rushing to the region to help negotiate a cease-fire.
November 22, 2012 | Edmund Sanders
An Egyptian-brokered cease-fire agreement to end eight days of clashes between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip relies heavily on the goodwill of two of the Middle East's bitterest enemies, but gave each enough to claim success. By the time the truce took effect Wednesday evening, 162 Palestinians and five Israelis had died. Nearly half the Palestinian dead and all but one of the Israelis were civilians. In a sign of the two sides' lingering animosity, clashes continued right up to the deadline, with Hamas sending a barrage of rockets toward several Israeli cites and Israeli aircraft pounding a few final targets in Gaza.
November 22, 2012 | By Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times
RAFAH, Gaza Strip - Seated on a muddy hill, Sulieman Masri glumly scanned the giant crater that was once a smuggling tunnel used to support his family. After the Israeli airstrikes of the last week, Thursday morning was the first safe time to venture out. He discovered his tunnel was among 140 Israel destroyed. Now it's now a massive sand pit coated with gray explosives residue. It would take two months to rebuild at the cost of $20,000. "But I've heard that they are going to open the borders, which could put the tunnels out of business," he said.
November 22, 2012 | By Jeffrey Fleishman and Ramin Mostaghim, Los Angeles Times
CAIRO - Iran for years has supplied Hamas with weapons as part of its own struggle against Israel, but the conflict in the Gaza Strip reveals a shift in regional dynamics that may diminish Tehran's influence with Palestinian militant groups and strengthen the hand of Egypt. The longer-range missiles fired by Hamas over the last week - believed to be modifications of Iran's Fajr 5 missiles - startled Israel by landing near Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. A front-page story in Iran's conservative daily, Kayhan, boasted: "The missiles of resistance worked.
November 22, 2012 | By Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times
KIRYAT MALACHI, Israel - As the news sunk in Thursday that a cease-fire had ended an eight-day crisis that saw about 1,500 rockets launched from the Gaza Strip, Israelis began cleaning up, rebuilding and getting their lives back in some semblance of order. Military flatbeds loaded with tanks headed north, away from Gaza, on Thursday as the Israeli government appointed two committees to help damaged communities and injured residents, tally the destruction and assess compensation. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the panels to work "quickly and without bureaucracy.
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