Israel approves 284 new West Bank housing units, draws U.S. ire

Palestinian protesters run away from tear gas fired by Israeli troops during clashes near RamallahBy Jeffrey Heller and Arshad Mohammed JERUSALEM/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Israel approved on Wednesday 284 new housing units in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, drawing a U.S. accusation that its policies could expand settlements in a “potentially unlimited way.” U.S. officials said the criticism from the U.S. State Department marked the first time it has suggested in public that Israel may be moving toward unlimited settlement expansion on land the Palestinians seek to establish their own state. The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the latest language was unusually strong but reflected a change in tone rather than any major shift in U.S. policy.


Dubai opens massive Marvel-branded indoor theme park

A man puts a small boy on his shoulders to look at an animatronic dinosaur at the IMG Worlds of Adventure amusement park in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. The IMG Worlds of Adventure indoor theme park opened Wednesday in Dubai, hoping to draw thrill seekers to its air-conditioned confines. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — As summer temperatures soared outside, the world’s largest indoor theme park, featuring popular Marvel and Cartoon Network-branded rides, opened its doors to the public on Wednesday in the Middle East’s tourist hub of Dubai — the latest in a myriad of new attractions here.


Slovak president appoints new transport minister after coalition shakeup

Slovakia's President Andrej Kiska reacts during his meeting with Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila at the Prime Minister's official residence in HelsinkiPresident Andrej Kiska named Arpad Ersek as Slovakia’s new transport minister on Wednesday to shore up the governing coalition after a split in one of the four ruling parties. Prime Minister Robert Fico’s leftist Smer party won a second consecutive term in an election in March but lost its parliamentary majority and had to form a coalition with three other parties. The previous transport minister, Roman Brecely, resigned on Tuesday after his centrist party Siet (Net), part of the five-month-old governing coalition, saw five out of its seven members of parliament bolt over internal disagreements.


US, Russia claim credit as IS spokesman killed in Syria

Then spokesman for the Islamic State group, Abu Mohamed al-Adnani, pictured in a screengrab from a video uploaded to YouTube in July 2012 next to an Islamist flag at an undisclosed locationIslamic State group spokesman and top strategist Abu Mohamed al-Adnani has been killed in Syria, the group said, with both Washington and Moscow claiming credit. In Washington, the Pentagon said US-led coalition forces had targeted Adnani in an air strike in Syria’s Aleppo province on Tuesday but did not immediately confirm his death. Regardless of who was responsible, analysts say his death will be a major bow to IS, which has suffered a series of setbacks this year including territorial losses in Syria and Iraq and the killings of other top figures.


Israel approves 463 settlement homes: watchdog

Buildings under construction in the Kiryat Arba Jewish settlement on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Hebron on July 6, 2016Israeli authorities on Wednesday approved the construction of 463 homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, the watchdog Peace Now said, despite growing international criticism over such projects. The approvals mostly involved new housing units, but a retroactive green light was also granted to 179 existing homes in the Ofarim settlement. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government “continues to plan and build all over the West Bank, while also giving settlers the message that any construction done without planning will be retroactively legalised,” Peace Now said.