ISRAEL: Palestinian boycotts meeting
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad pulled out of a planned meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, torpedoing what would have been the highest-level talks between the sides in nearly two years. The meeting, attended by two lower-level Palestinians, lasted less than an hour and signaled that little progress was made. Palestinians, meanwhile, marked their annual day of solidarity with prisoners held by Israel. And Khader Adnan, who did not eat for 66 days, the longest hunger striker in Palestinian history, was freed late Tuesday as part of a deal reached with Israel.
More help for Holocaust survivors
The Israel cabinet boosted its budget for assisting Holocaust survivors Tuesday, a day before the country marks its annual Holocaust Memorial Day for the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis in World War II. Fewer than 200,000 aging survivors remain in Israel, many living in poverty and previous governments have been criticized for not doing enough to allow them to live out their lives in dignity. The government said aid for services for Holocaust survivors will rise to $60 million for 2012, a 13 percent increase.
AFGHANISTAN: Karzai sends U.S. another demand
President Hamid Karzai raised another condition Tuesday for a long-awaited strategic partnership with the United States: The accord must spell out the yearly U.S. commitment to pay billions of dollars for the cash-strapped Afghan security forces. Meanwhile, Australia became the latest ally to speed up its withdrawal timetable. Prime Minister Julia Gillard said troops are to leave nearly a year earlier than their expected departure in 2014.
SYRIA: Peace appeal sent to Assad's wife
The wives of the British and German UN ambassadors released a video Tuesday urging Asma Assad, the wife of President Bashar Assad to stop being a bystander and speak out to demand that her husband stop the violence now. The video asks viewers to sign an online petition to Asma Assad asking that she take a risk and "stand up for peace . . . for the sake of your people."