weekend wrap 88.
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10,000 people protest cartoons in UK
Thousands of protesters gather in Trafalgar Square on Saturday, carrying signs condemning the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, deemed offensive by Muslims. The crowd planned on marching towards Hyde Park.
Abbas urges Hamas to form PA gov't as soon as possible
The new Palestinian Legislative Council was sworn in on Saturday, with Hamas constituting 74 of the 132 seats. Opening the swearing-in ceremony was a speech by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, in which he insisted that agreements signed with Israel constituted a reality that must be accepted. Hamas rejected calls to negotiate with Israel.
Hope of finding mudslide survivors fades
A massive mudslide on Friday completely covered the Philippine farming village of Guinsaugon. Searches focused on an area where a local school used to be, after unconfirmed reports of text messages sent by survivors to their relatives. Rescuers located 57 survivors and 55 bodies by Saturday morning. However, they feared the death toll would reach 1800, as little hope remained of finding additional survivors.
Auschwitz refuses Iranian visit
Iranian delegation intended to investigate the extent of the Holocaust. Polish FM said those who deny the gas chambers "won't set foot in Poland." It was also revealed on Friday that Germany's Dresdner Bank AG financed Nazi arms makers and owned a stake in a company that built crematoriums at the Auschwitz concentration camp
PA agrees to give back US infrastructure aid money
The Palestinian Authority agreed to the American demand to return $50 million that were originally earmarked to be used for infrastructure projects. The United States insisted the money be returned so that it would not reach Hamas hands and be used for terrorist purposes. State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack noted the money might be redistributed for humanitarian needs.
Iran offers to ratify nuclear pact
The Iranian embassy in Paris hinted its government may conditionally allow nuclear inspectors to make surprise inspections of its nuclear facilities to ensure that it is meant for peaceful purposes. A French radio interview with an Iranian negotiator mentioned that the Islamic republic may accept limitations on its use of centrifuges, preventing the nuclear enrichment from reaching nuclear-grade quality.
Chait slips during ice skating program
Israel's hopes for an Olympic medal took a blow when ice dancer Galit Chait slipped during the compulsory program on Friday. The Zaretsky brother and sister duo finished the compulsory program in 19th place. Though spectators granted them warm applause, commentators expressed doubts regarding their technical skill.
Peretz meets with Morocco's King Muhammed VI in Fez
Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz met with King Muhammed VI on Thursday in hopes of generating more open communications with the Arab world. Peretz was expected to return to Israel on Sunday. During his visit, Peretz asserted that Israel will launch an "uncompromising" war solely against Hamas and other terrorist organizations, but not against the rest of the Palestinians.
Olmert defers decision on PA sanctions until Sunday
After originally planning to impose sanctions against the Palestinians immediately after Hamas was sworn in to the Palestinian Legislative Council on Saturday, Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert decided on Friday to delay the restrictions until after the government could assess Hamas' actions after coming to power. The decision was expected to be made at the government meeting on Sunday. The restrictions originally included economic sanctions, travel bans between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and preventing Palestinian workers from entering Israel.
Avian flu case confirmed in Egypt
A UN official on Friday said that tests done on dead birds in Egypt had confirmed an outbreak of the deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu. Other outbreaks were found in flocks and rooftop coops in Giza, and also reported in Minya and Qena. The government veterinary service said the Health Ministry was preparing to declare a state of emergency.
Graffiti sparks West Bank clashes
Nabi Elias residents in the West Bank accused local settlers of spraying a local mosque with offensive grafitti against the Prophet Muhammad, leading to vilent confrontations between the Palestinians and IDF soldiers. The Palestinians threw rocks at the soldiers, who responded with teargas. No one was injured in the incident.