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Thursday 30 March 2017

Rival Palestinian factions agree to end division in power-sharing deal

Palestinian rivals Hamas and Fatah announced yesterday that they have agreed on steps to end their division and share power. The two sides said they would hold more talks before signing a final deal in Cairo.

They have been divided since Hamas violently seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, leaving Western-backed President Abbas of Fatah in control only of the West Bank.

Reconciliation is important as Mr Abbas's Palestinian Authority needs a unanimous stance to back its newly started peace talks with Israel. Hamas militants oppose Israel and have threatened to spoil the talks with violence.

A joint statement said the two sides had reached an understanding on "the majority of points of difference". The sides differ over control of Palestinian security forces and the date for parliamentary and presidential elections.

Anglican leader backs gay bishops

THE spiritual head of the Anglican Church, Archbishop Rowan Williams, backed gay people becoming bishops yesterday as long as they remained celibate, risking more divisions within the Church on the issue.

Making one of the most explicit statements he has made on the subject, he said he had "no problem" with their consecration. But the Archbishop said he would not endorse gay clergy in active relationships because of tradition and historical "standards" that require celibacy.

NATO troops, Taliban killed in clash

Three Nato service members were killed in two bomb blasts and more than 30 insurgents died in a clash with coalition troops in east Afghanistan, Nato said yesterday.

The coalition also captured a Taliban commander.

This year is already the deadliest of the war, with 531 international forces killed as of yesterday.

Settlement deadline mars peace talks

ISRAELI settlers yesterday hauled bulldozers and other construction equipment into a Jewish settlement deep in the West Bank, just a day before the end of a government-mandated halt to settlement building.

The lifting of the construction restrictions presents the first major crisis in the new round of Mideast peace talks, launched earlier this month by US President Obama.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, who imposed the slowdown 10 months ago as a peace gesture, says he will not extend the restrictions. But the Palestinians say they will not continue negotiations if building resumes.

Storms kill Haitian quake refugees

A storm with high winds killed five people, including two children, as it tore through thousands of tents housing people left homeless by Haiti's massive January 12 earthquake, a senior official said yesterday.

The tornado-like storm toppled or shredded 5,878 of the tents and tarpaulins in homeless camps and makeshift shelters across the chaotic capital Port-au-Prince. The fast-passing storm toppled numerous trees and power poles.

The five people killed by debris included a girl and a boy, and at least 50 other people were injured.

Eight months after the quake that shattered Port-au-Prince, killing up to 300,000 people, the international aid community has faced criticism that efforts to clear rubble and relocate survivors have been slow to materialise.

More than one million people are still left homeless and reconstruction efforts have barely gotten under way.

Maltese Falcon prop fetches $325,000

AMONG the items sold at an auction of iconic film memorabilia in New York City on Friday was the falcon statuette in the 1941 film-noir classic The Maltese Falcon, which fetched $325,000 (€240,000) and went to a group of buyers that included actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

Two prop tablets from the film The Ten Commandments, carried by actor Charlton Heston during his portrayal of Moses, sold for $18,000 (€13,000).

Sunday Independent

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