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Israel to advance plans for nearly 4,000 settler homes: official

JERUSALEM: Israel is to advance plans for nearly 4,000 settler homes in the occupied West Bank as part of a push to greatly boost settlement growth, an Israeli official said on Tuesday. The approvals are to include units in the flash point West Bank city of Hebron for the first time in years. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that "3,736 housing units will be approved at different stages of planning and construction". He did not give a timeframe or a precise breakdown, but said the homes would…

Palestine to turn presidential palace into national library

RAMALLAH: Palestinian officials are embarking on a project to transform a presidential palace into a national library near the city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, the culture minister said on Sunday. President Mahmud Abbas and his cash-strapped administration had faced questions over the construction of the $17.5 million palace, which was initially intended as a presidential headquarters and location where foreign dignitaries could be received. Abbas has now decided to transform the 4,700-square-metre complex…

Museum to Yasser Arafat offers facts, leaves open questions

RAMALLAH: The battle for Palestinian statehood consumed Yasser Arafat's life and a new museum in his name puts the nature of that fight front and center - the sub-machine gun on his desk, the AK-47 assault rifle in the corner, the pistol at his side. Twelve years after his death in Paris at the age of 75, the Yasser Arafat Museum opened its doors in Ramallah on Thursday, attempting to flesh out some of the facts behind a divisive figure who remains something of an enigma long after his demise. Arranged along four…

Palestinians to open museum to longtime leader Arafat

RAMALLAH: A museum dedicated to Yasser Arafat, including the room where the Palestinian leader spent much of his final years under Israeli siege, will open on Wednesday ahead of the anniversary of his death. Current Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas will formally open the Yasser Arafat Museum next to the gravesite of the fighter-turned-statesman in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. The museum, which cost $7 million, is the first of its kind dedicated to the longtime leader, according to the Yasser Arafat Foundation.…