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Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams held a round of talks in Jerusalem yesterday and another session is planned for Tuesday, Israeli radio reported Sunday.

Palestinians had cancelled a round nearly a week ago after Israeli soldiers shot dead three Palestinians in clashes following a raid at the Qalandia refugee camp north of Jerusalem. A fourth Palestinian died Saturday in a hospital in Nablus from wounds suffered during an August 20 raid at Jenin refugee camp.


Israel approved Sunday the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners as part of a broader prisoner release designed to jump-start the peace process, dpa reported.

The names of the prisoners were to be announced over night and were part of 104 prisoners that Israel has already agreed to let go in order to restart talks with the Palestinians.


Israel has given approval for the building of more than 1,000 new homes in Jewish settlements, and is to publish a call for tenders from contractors, the Housing Ministry said Sunday, dpa reported.

Israel also okayed the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners as part of a broader prisoner release designed to jump-start the peace process.

The announcements came ahead of the planned resumption of direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in Jerusalem on Wednesday.


Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan, Abdulaziz Kamilov received the Israeli ambassador Hillel Newman at the end of last week, who completed his diplomatic mission in the republic, Uzbek Foreign Ministry reported.

"During the conversation, the parties discussed current issues of bilateral relations, as well as international and regional issues," the report said.

The parties also approved mutual interest in implementation of joint projects for attracting the advanced technologies of Israel in the sphere of agriculture, water conservation and energy.


The Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams were together late Monday at the US State Department for a dinner hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry, dpa reported.

The sides were due to have relaunched peace talks Monday evening in Washington almost three years after negotiations stalled over Jewish settlement building on occupied land.

A State Department spokeswoman confirmed that the envoys were dining with Kerry but gave no confirmation of the planned meeting before the meal, which was scheduled after dark to accommodate Palestinian negotiators observing Ramadan.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted Tuesday the European Union's decision to add a clause to agreements between its members and Israel specifying they will not apply to Israeli occupied territories in the West Bank, Xinhua reported.

In response, Netanyahu held an urgent meeting Tuesday afternoon with Justice Minister and chief peace negotiator Tzipi Livni, Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennet and Deputy Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin.


US Secretary of State John Kerry will leave late Monday for Amman to hold talks with Jordanian and Arab League officials, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, dpa reported.

Kerry will brief the officials on the Middle East peace process, having pledged to update them in an April meeting with the Arab League delegation in Washington.

Psaki said in light of recent events in Egypt, the talks were expected to cover a range of topics, but said no meetings with Palestinian or Israeli officials were planned. She stressed that final details of the trip were still being made.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet approved Sunday a draft bill that would enlist more ultra-Orthodox Jews into the military, dpa reported.

Fourteen ministers voted in favour of the legislation, which now has to pass three readings in the Knesset, Israel's parliament, before becoming law. Four ministers abstained and none voted against.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid called it "a historic day."

"After 65 years, we finally end this distortion. We are all very excited," he told reporters.


The United States transferred 200 million U.S. dollars as an additional assistance to Jordan to help reduce pressure of the large influx of Syrian refugees in the kingdom, the state-run Petra news agency reported Tuesday.

Jordan's Minister of Finance Umayya Toukan said the U.S. transferred the grant to the Central Bank of Jordan, Xinhua reported.

He added that the grant was pledged to Jordan during a recent visit by U.S. President Barack Obama to Jordan in March, adding that the grant seeks to help Jordan shoulder the burden in light of the presence of large number of Syrian refugees.


The new Palestinian government inherited a debt of more than 4 billion US dollars, it said Tuesday as it held its first meeting, dpa reported.

Finance Minister Shukri Bishara told the cabinet that the government's debt totalled 4.2 billion dollars and more than a quarter of it was owed to Palestinian banks, another quarter to foreign organizations, a quarter to the retirement fund and the rest to Palestinian businesses, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Muhammad Mustafa said.