Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday stepped up his rhetoric against Israel over its deadly air offensive on Gaza, accusing the Jewish state of committing "state terrorism" against the Palestinians. Presenting himself as the sole world leader speaking up for the Palestinians, Erdogan said any normalisation in the troubled ties between Israel and Ankara was out of the question. "Israel is continuing to carry out state terrorism in the region. Nobody, except us, tells it to stop," Erdogan told members of his ruling party in parliament, accusing Israel of perpetrating a "massacre" of Palestinians.
With US ally Israel facing a barrage of rocket attacks from Gaza, a Senate panel on Tuesday approved a 50 percent funding boost for the Jewish State's Iron Dome anti-missile system. The measure, if it becomes law, would provide $621.6 million for Israeli missile defense programs for the 2015 fiscal year starting in October, including $351 million for the short-range Iron Dome system that has been put to the test over the past eight days amid a raging conflict between Israel and Hamas. Congress appropriated $235 million to Iron Dome last year. The White House had requested about $176 million for the system for 2015, but lawmakers doubled the amount.
Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and activist Jose Antonio Vargas, who revealed in 2011 that he is an undocumented immigrant, was detained by US border patrol agents Tuesday, inflaming an already fiery immigration debate. Campaigners and leaders including the mayor of New York immediately called for the Philippine-born 33-year-old's release from detention in a Texas border town, some urging President Barack Obama to intervene. Vargas was in the southern US state to join other lobby groups "to stand in solidarity with and humanize the stories of the children and families fleeing the most dangerous regions of Central America," the campaign group Define American said. A high-profile campaigner for the rights of fellow immigrants, he was detained at the airport in McAllen, where he planned to board a flight to Los Angeles.
The death toll from Israel's week-long campaign in Gaza rose Tuesday to 197, as three Palestinians were killed in renewed strikes after an Egyptian truce bid failed. Israel's first fatality in the war was also reported, with a man killed by rocket fire from Gaza near the Erez border crossing. Gaza emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said two Palestinians were killed in a car in southern Rafah and a third man was killed in central Johr al-Deek. The three new deaths brought the toll in eight days of violence in Gaza to 197.
Tuareg rebels and the Malian government on Tuesday exchanged dozens of prisoners in a goodwill gesture on the eve of peace talks opening in Algiers. Forty-five Malian soldiers and police captured during clashes at the end of May in the west African nation's restive northeast arrived at Bamako's airport, where they were welcomed by Prime Minister Moussa Mara. They were replaced on the plane by 41 militants captured during patrols of the north by security forces, with the rebels due to be to returned to their homeland, known by the Tuareg as "Azawad". "In total today the Malian government and armed groups in the north have released 86 prisoners on both sides, in the context of an easing of tension," security ministry official Aliou Toure told AFP at the airport.
Washington remained committed to pressing for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas Tuesday despite Palestinian militants rejecting a short-lived truce and Israel resuming its deadly air campaign against Gaza. US Secretary of State John Kerry said as the Egyptian-drafted ceasefire plan was unveiled that he would be willing to return to the region at a moment's notice if it would help bring the parties to a truce.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the next head of the EU commission, faced down jeers by British eurosceptics on Tuesday as he argued that the euro was a blessing for Europe and called for more spending to spark growth. Juncker, a former Luxembourg premier and veteran EU insider, was speaking shortly before European Parliament vote that confirmed him as the leader of the EU's powerful executive. "The single currency does not divide Europe, it protects Europe," Juncker said in his speech to the parliament, where eurosceptics won more seats than ever in May elections.
The US military will not send F-35 fighter jets to take part in the Farnborough air show in Britain as planned, the Pentagon said Tuesday, citing safety precautions. "While we're disappointed that we're not going to be able to participate in the air show, we remain fully committed to the program itself and look forward to future opportunities to showcase its capabilities to allies and partners," spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told a news conference.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart laid the groundwork Tuesday for an extension of a Sunday deadline to strike a historic nuclear deal after intense talks in Vienna. A Western diplomat went as far as to say that it was now "highly probable" Iran and world powers would agree to such a move, and that the extension would be months not weeks. "As it's highly improbable that we will finalise in Vienna before the weekend, it is highly probable that there will be a wish to continue to negotiate in the coming months," the diplomat said on condition of anonymity. After a decade of rising tensions, the mooted accord between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany is aimed at easing concerns that Iran might develop nuclear weapons and silencing talk of war.
Israel resumed a punishing air campaign against Gaza Tuesday after its Palestinian foe Hamas rejected a truce and fired dozens of rockets over the border, killing an Israeli for the first time. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the army would "expand and intensify" its Gaza operation after Hamas rejected the Egyptian truce proposal. The Israeli was killed in a rocket attack on an Israeli position near the Erez crossing with Gaza, the army said. It came after Israel's security cabinet said early Tuesday it would accept an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire to begin at 0600 GMT.
Croatian lawmakers adopted Tuesday a long-awaited law allowing gay couples to register as life partners, enjoying the same rights as their heterosexual peers except on adopting children. Gay rights activists hailed the legislation in the largely conservative EU member state, which is strongly influenced by the powerful Roman Catholic Church. "Croatia made a historic step forward to stand along progressive countries which have already resolved the issue," Iva Tomecic, editor-in-chief of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) news portal CroL, told AFP.
Iraq's sharply divided parliament elected a speaker Tuesday in a step forward in the delayed government formation process, as a renewed bid to recapture Tikrit from militants ended in retreat. World powers and Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, have piled pressure on MPs to set aside their differences in the face of a jihadist-led offensive that has overrun swathes of territory north and west of Baghdad. After two fruitless sessions earlier this month, MPs elected Salim al-Juburi as speaker, a post traditionally held by a Sunni Arab that must be filled before the process of forming a government can go ahead. "The election of a speaker is the first step in the critical process of forming a new government that can take into account the rights, aspirations, and legitimate concerns of all Iraq's communities," he said in a statement.