Friday, 8 February 2013

Hamas official lays down conditions for unity govt


BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Hamas official Ismail Ashqar said Friday that consultations for establishing a national consensus government will be initially confined to Fatah and Hamas, and then presented to the rest of the factions.

Fatah and Hamas are set to meet Sunday in Cairo in order to discuss formation of the new government.

Ashqar presented two conditions for the long-awaited joint government. He said Hamas still does not agree with the original proposal that the cabinet is composed of technocrats, but rather they want political figures from both parties.

The Hamas official also said that Abbas' decision to form the government only has political weight, to be a legal entity it should be approved by the parliament. more

Jerusalem soccer club torched after racist protests against Muslim players


JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A suspected arson attack damaged the main club house of Israeli Premier League side Beitar Jerusalem on Friday, a day after four fans were charged in court in connection with racist incitement against the team's recruitment of Muslim players, police said.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the fire, which caused no injuries, caused "extensive damage" to the premises next to the team's main training grounds. Reuters television footage showed trophies and other memorabilia were destroyed.

"Initial findings show the blaze was caused by a number of suspects" and police were investigating a possible link to protests over the team's signing up of two Chechen Muslim players last month, Rosenfeld said.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said police would take "a heavy hand to put an end to this issue," and praised the club for what he saw as steps toward "fighting racism and violence".

The Israel Football Association said that soccer's world governing body FIFA had requested clarification following racist chanting by fans at a league fixture last month against the Chechen players. more