Abbas gives ground on referendum
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stepped back from a political showdown with his Hamas rivals, giving the Islamic militants several days to recognize Israel or face the voters in a referendum on the idea.
Abbas, a moderate, has been pushing the Hamas-led government to accept a proposal that calls for a Palestinian state alongside Israel, implicitly recognizing the Jewish state. Abbas believes the plan will help lift the economic pressure on the Palestinians and allow him to pursue peace talks with Israel.
Hamas, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, has balked at the plan, demanding changes in the language, calling for more time to discuss it and saying it won’t give in to deadlines.
Abbas initially gave Hamas until Tuesday to accept the plan. Officials said Abbas agreed to the delay at the request of unspecified Arab leaders.
Two coalition soldiers killed
Two foreign soldiers in the U.S.-led coalition were killed and three others were wounded in two separate attacks Tuesday as insurgents continued an offensive that has sparked some of the heaviest fighting in Afghanistan in several years.
The foreign coalition soldiers died when their armored vehicle struck a roadside bomb in eastern Nangarhar province. They were part of a patrol carrying out combat security operations in the Khogyani District, the military said in a statement.
A third soldier and an Afghan interpreter also were wounded. None of the victims was identified. U.S. and German troops are the only foreign forces in the coalition known to be operating in Nangarhar province, said Ghafour Khan, spokesman for the provincial police chief.
Declaration warns of threat to family
The Vatican declared Tuesday that the traditional family has never been so threatened as in today’s world, lashing out against contraception, abortion, in vitro fertilization and same-sex marriage.
The 57-page document was issued by the Pontifical Council for the Family, whose head, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, is a strong opponent of the use of condoms under any circumstances.
Many of the practices attacked by the document have been widespread in Western nations for decades; same-sex marriage has become an issue recently.
The Vatican’s document did not break any new ground but summarized traditional Roman Catholic positions in the first sweeping comment on the issues during Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy.