By Michael Georgy CAIRO (Reuters) – Egyptians vote on Tuesday in a constitutional referendum, the first ballot since the military overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Mursi and an event likely to spawn a presidential bid by army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Few doubt that Egyptians, who staged mass protests against Mursi's rule before his ouster, will turn out in big numbers and vote "yes" in the two-day referendum, a milestone in the army-backed government's political road map. Sisi deposed Mursi, Egypt's first freely elected head of state, in July. His Islamist foes see Sisi as the mastermind of a coup that kindled the worst internal strife in Egypt's modern history and brought back what critics call a police state.
Moscow and Washington made a joint call Monday for Syria's regime and rebels to agree to ceasefires in parts of their battle-scarred country ahead of peace talks this month. But the two countries continued to disagree on Iran's participation in the talks, with US Secretary of State John Kerry saying Tehran needs to accept plans for a transitional government if it wants to take part. Meeting in Paris with UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for the ceasefires to start ahead of the so-called Geneva II talks due to begin in Montreux on January 22.
Iran’s FM Zarif met with Hezbollah leader Nasrallah. The two spoke about regional developments, namely Syira, and promised to ‘work together to deal with terror, infidelity and radicalism – the regions largest threats’
Ramat Gan is planning on charging Shoah survivors NIS 20 to participate in Holocaust ceremony. ‘It is unthinkable that a body as wealthy as the Ramat Gan Municipality will charge Holocaust survivors money,’ city council member says
Yarmouk residents dying of starvation as siege by Assa forces continues. Palestinian: ‘We want to tell the PLO that if they don’t do anything the revolution will arrive to Ramallah and Gaza’
By Justyna Pawlak BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Big powers and Iran are likely to start talks on a final settlement to the long dispute over its nuclear ambitions in February, shortly after a six-month deal curbing its atomic activity takes effect, a diplomatic source said on Monday. If successful, the next round of negotiations could head off the risk of lingering mistrust spiraling out of control into a wider Middle East war over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. Led by European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the talks will face the challenge of defining a permissible scope of Iranian nuclear activity that would lay to rest Western concerns that it could yield an atomic weapon. In return, Iran – which denies having any intention to “weaponise” the enrichment of uranium for nuclear energy – wants governments in the United States and Europe to end painful economic sanctions.
By Matt Spetalnick SYCAMORE FARM, Israel (Reuters) – Israel buried former prime minister Ariel Sharon at his family farm on Monday, celebrating the military achievements of a man regarded as a war hero at home but as a war criminal by many in the Arab world. Eulogized first in a ceremony in Jerusalem, and later in the green fields of his estate, speakers hailed a life entwined with that of Israel since its 1948 creation, gently alluding as well to the controversies that also defined his career. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and former British prime minister Tony Blair laid wreaths at his grave, 10 km (6 miles) from the border of the Gaza Strip, with the army on high alert lest any rockets be fired out of the Palestinian territory. Two missiles were launched into southern Israel soon after the funeral ended, the army said.
JERUSALEM (AP) — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Monday tried to give a boost to the flagging Mideast peace process, saying he believes Israel and a future Palestine could become an "island of stability" in a turbulent region and expressing hope that leaders would make the "difficult decisions" needed for compromise.