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Israeli study looks at illegal outposts

Compiled from wire reports The Spokesman-Review

Jerusalem A government-sponsored report released Wednesday recommended the possible prosecution of Israeli officials involved in funding and building scores of unauthorized outposts established by Jewish settlers in the West Bank in recent years.

The report said that successive Israeli governments had effectively abdicated control of settlement activity, allowing the settlers to set up the outposts illegally with the help of some state agencies.

“Continuous, blatant, institutionalized lawbreaking by the institutions themselves undermines the rule of law,” the report asserts. “Safeguarding Israel as a democratic state requires urgent action to change the state of affairs described here. These actions can no longer be accepted.”

The study was commissioned last year by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon after demands that Israel dismantle outposts built after March 2001, as required by the international peace plan known as the road map.

The report found that some government departments were actively involved in building and financing the outposts, violating “the law, the rules and the regulations set by the state itself.”

The report said there are at least 105 unauthorized outposts, more than half of them on land that is wholly or partly owned by Palestinians. At least 24 of the outposts were built after March 2001.

Mideast peace talks reach impasse

Jericho, West Bank Israel and the Palestinians deadlocked Wednesday over returning control of West Bank towns to Palestinian control, extending a stalemate that threatens to increase frustration and anger that could lead to increased violence after a monthlong truce.

Despite the risk of losing momentum in peace efforts, both sides clung to their positions.

The Palestinians insisted Israel remove army roadblocks around the towns and lift travel restrictions. Israel said it cannot take security risks until Palestinian security forces do a better job reining in militants.

Kindergarten bus fire kills 12, injures 5

Beijing A fire on a kindergarten bus in eastern China has killed 12 children and injured at least five others, the government said Wednesday.

The fire broke out Tuesday while the bus was delivering the children to their homes in Linyi, a city in eastern China’s Shandong province, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

It said that 23 people were aboard the bus when it caught fire. Five children died at the scene and seven who were seriously injured died despite emergency treatment.

Four other children and one teacher were also hospitalized.

Miners trapped in South Africa quake

Johannesburg, South Africa An earthquake shook parts of northern South Africa on Wednesday, trapping 42 miners underground, damaging buildings and causing scores of minor injuries, officials and news media said.

The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 5, was centered near Klerksdorp, 125 miles southwest of Johannesburg, said Ian Saunders of the National Seismograph Network at the Department of Geosciences in Pretoria.

The temblor trapped the workers 1 1/2 miles underground at a gold mine, the South African Press Association reported.

“Rescue teams are working to open entry tunnels that were closed by rock falls,” Ilja Graulich, a spokesman for mine operator DRDGold, told the agency.

“We are digging. We are digging,” he said.

Of the 42 miners originally trapped, 26 were later rescued. They were slightly dehydrated and suffered minor injuries.

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