Monday, 8 August 2011

Ratings agency downgrades Israeli debt in blow to its economic prospects

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Standard & Poor's Ratings Services on Monday lowered the ratings on U.S.-guaranteed bonds issued by the Israeli government to AA+ from AAA. The downgrade comes in the wake of the ratings agency's move on Friday to strip the U.S. of its triple-A rating. However, Israel's sovereign rating is unchanged at A with a stable outlook. The decision affects about $6 billion in debt.

Hamas and Fatah strike agreement on release of all political prisoners

CAIRO (Ma'an) -- Hamas and Fatah have agreed to release all political prisoners after meeting in Cairo on Sunday to discuss the reconciliation deal signed in April, official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

The two factions also agreed to the formation of a committee to issue passports to Gaza residents before the end of Ramadan, as well as forming a task force to reopen institutions which were shut down in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a result of political animosities.

The agreement "is important because it is a reassuring message to the Palestinian people, and it reflects the seriousness of both parties in implementing it," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zahri said in Gaza.

A committee would also be formed to "ensure the opening of closed institutions in both the West Bank and Gaza," Zahri added. more