News Update – Ukraine, Israel, Syria and Egypt – April 18, 2014

bbc

Ukraine crisis: Deal to ‘de-escalate’ agreed in Geneva

April 17, 2014

Russia, Ukraine, the US and the European Union have said that all sides have agreed to steps to “de-escalate” the crisis in eastern Ukraine. Their foreign ministers were speaking at the end of talks between Russia, Ukraine, the EU and US in the Swiss city of Geneva. Analysts say the outline agreement could stay economic sanctions the West was preparing to impose on Russia. Ukraine has been in crisis since its pro-Moscow president was toppled. Russia then annexed the Crimean peninsula – part of Ukraine but with a Russian-speaking majority population – in a move that provoked international outrage. This was followed by the seizing of government buildings in eastern Ukraine by pro-Russian separatists opposed to the new order in the capital Kiev.

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Washington post

Israel arrests Arab journalist over Lebanon visit

April 17, 2014

JERUSALEM — Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence service said on Thursday that it has detained a young Israeli Arab journalist for traveling to Lebanon, which Israel considers an enemy country. Majd Kayyal, a 23-year-old journalist for the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir, traveled to Beirut last month for a conference. Although Lebanon bars Israeli citizens from entering, the Shin Bet said Palestinian officials in the West Bank gave Kayyal Palestinian travel documents that allowed him to enter Lebanon. Kayyal was arrested last Saturday at the Israeli border on suspicion of being recruited by a militant organization. The Shin Bet said it dropped that suspicion, and is considering indicting him for traveling to Lebanon. Kayyal was held for five days before being allowed access to a lawyer. The Shin Bet said this is permitted in security cases.

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Middle East Online

Egypt leftist leader urges all revolutionary groups to unite

April 16, 2014

CAIRO – Egypt’s leftist leader, the ex-army chief’s main rival in next month’s presidential election, Wednesday urged all revolutionary groups to unite, as a liberal party threw its weight behind him. Hamdeen Sabbahi, who has emerged as the main challenger to former field marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the May 26-27 vote, also reiterated that the military should stay out of politics. Sabbahi came third in the 2012 presidential election won by Islamist Mohamed Morsi, whom Sisi ousted last July. On Wednesday, Sabbahi urged all groups that joined the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak to unite. “I tell them, now is the time to unify our efforts and define our objectives and prove our ability to win,” the prominent opposition leader said at a news conference.

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The Independent

Syria conflict: ‘We will be martyrs’ say rebel fighters from inside the besieged city of Homs

April 17, 2014

The Syrian regime is on the verge of winning back the city of Homs – known as the capital of the revolution for its role in the three-year-old uprising. The Syrian army began a large scale military campaign on Monday to retake the last four neighbourhoods in opposition hands. Those inside face a stark choice between surrender to the regime or fighting till death. “Life is disastrous in every meaning of the word,” says one activist inside the Old City. Following a siege of almost two years, there are less than a thousand people remaining in the area. The majority are fighters, but there are several families and two dozen Christians who refused to leave during a UN orchestrated evacuation in February.

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