JERUSALEM – Israel granted a West Bank college coveted university status on Monday, in a move that could trigger international condemnation and enrage the Palestinians.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that following a legal review, he instructed the military to upgrade the college’s status, the final approval for the designation.
The announcement marks a victory for nationalist settlers who hope university recognition will give them further legitimacy and a stronger sense of permanence in the West Bank.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose government backed the upgrade, called the institute’s president to congratulate him following the decision.
Proponents of the upgrade say the new status marks a crowning jewel of the government’s commitment to holding the West Bank, the heartland of biblical Judaism, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war.
Palestinians consider the West Bank to be part of their future state. Most of the international community agrees and considers Israel’s West Bank settlements illegal and an obstacle to peace.
U.S. airstrike kills al-Qaida militants
SANAA, Yemen – A U.S. drone airstrike killed two al-Qaida militants Monday in a southern town, Yemeni security officials said, the latest in a yearslong U.S. offensive against the branch the U.S. considers the violent extremists’ most dangerous.
One of the dead was a midlevel al-Qaida Yemeni operative who escaped a U.S. drone attack 10 years ago, the officials said. The other was said to be a Jordanian.
They said the airstrike on Radda, in Bayda province, also critically injured three militants.
The Yemeni militant, Abdel-Raouf Naseeb, escaped death in the first recorded drone attack in Yemen, on Nov. 3, 2002. That strike killed Abu Ali al-Harithi, suspected of masterminding the October 2000 attack against the USS Cole warship in a Yemen port.
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