The president of Iran again lashed out at Israel on Friday and said it was “heading toward annihilation,” just days after Tehran raised fears about its nuclear activities by saying it successfully enriched uranium for the first time.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Israel a “permanent threat” to the Middle East that will “soon” be liberated. He also appeared to again question whether the Holocaust really happened.
“Like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation,” Ahmadinejad said at the opening of a conference in support of the Palestinians. “The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm.”
Ahmadinejad provoked a world outcry in October when he said Israel should be “wiped off the map.”
U.S. firms barred from Hamas deals
The U.S. government has barred Americans from doing most business with the new Hamas-led Palestinian government, officials said Friday, stepping up U.S. financial pressure on the Islamic militant group.
In a memo obtained by the Associated Press, the U.S. Treasury Department said “transactions with the Palestinian Authority by U.S. persons are prohibited, unless licensed.” It said the decision was based on “existing terrorism sanctions.”
Palestinian officials condemned the American decision.
The United States and European Union have branded Hamas, which has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide attacks, a terrorist group.
Prodi closer to premiership
Center-left leader Romano Prodi moved closer to becoming the next Italian premier Friday as the Interior Ministry sharply lowered the number of contested ballots in the hard-fought parliamentary election, boosting the likelihood his narrow victory will stand.
As judges continued counting contested ballots and Italians awaited the final word, Prodi reiterated his confidence, while Premier Silvio Berlusconi still refused to concede.
“The match is over,” Prodi, speaking from Bologna where he was spending Easter weekend, was quoted as saying by the Italian agency Apcom. “Now let’s move on.”
Copts killed, hurt in knife attacks
A man with a knife attacked worshippers at two Coptic churches in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria during Mass on Friday, killing one person and wounding five before he was arrested, the government said.
About 600 angry Copts, mostly young men, gathered to protest the attacks.
The Interior Ministry identified the attacker as Mahmoud Salah-Eddin Abdel-Raziq and said he suffered from “psychological disturbances.”