By John Lyons, Middle East correspondent | August 12
EFFORTS to restart peace talks in the Middle East were set back yesterday when Palestinians elected to their leadership Marwan Barghouti, a man serving a life term in jail for organising the killing of Israelis.
The ruling faction of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah, elected Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences in Israel, to its executive committee.
In opinion polls, Barghouti regularly outpolls current Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas as preferred leader by Palestinians even though he is in an Israeli jail.
He is considered a mastermind of the second intifada that erupted in 2000, but insists he was not involved in organising the killings for which he is serving time.
Mr Abbas was re-elected unopposed yesterday as leader of the Palestinian Authority, which rules the West Bank.
The results came as the Obama administration's attempts to stop Jewish settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem received another setback, this time from Barack Obama's own Democratic ranks.
Leading US Democrat Steny Hoyer, the US house majority leader, said yesterday the US congress differentiated between building in predominantly Arab East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
He warned that Mr Obama risked losing "some, maybe much" of his support from the Jewish community in the US if they judged his policies had undermined Israel.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Mr Hoyer said: "I think there is a significant difference between what we are talking about in the West Bank and Jerusalem itself, which is an integrated city, which is a whole.
"My view is that it will remain whole and therefore -- I don't want to anticipate the endgame -- I don't think the partitioning of Jerusalem is a reasonable outcome." Read more here ...
Source: The Australian