By Jeffrey Heller and Arshad Mohammed JERUSALEM/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Israel approved on Wednesday 284 new housing units in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, drawing a U.S. accusation that its policies could expand settlements in a "potentially unlimited way." U.S. officials said the criticism from the U.S. State Department marked the first time it has suggested in public that Israel may be moving toward unlimited settlement expansion on land the Palestinians seek to establish their own state. The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the latest language was unusually strong but reflected a change in tone rather than any major shift in U.S. policy.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — As summer temperatures soared outside, the world's largest indoor theme park, featuring popular Marvel and Cartoon Network-branded rides, opened its doors to the public on Wednesday in the Middle East's tourist hub of Dubai — the latest in a myriad of new attractions here.
PALERMO, Sicily (AP) — Two Eritrean baby boys were recovering well at a hospital in Palermo on Wednesday, a week after they were born prematurely in Libya and then — at only 5 days old — put on a cramped boat headed to Europe's shores.
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's parliament on Wednesday toughened penalties for female genital mutilation, adopting amendments that punish perpetrators with up to 15 years in prison if a child dies and up to seven years for performing the procedure.
Israel approved Wednesday the construction of 463 homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, the watchdog Peace Now said, drawing a sharp rebuke from the United States. Washington said it was "deeply concerned" by the announcement, with a senior US official slamming the "pervasive advancement of settlement activity in a new and potentially unlimited way". The approvals mostly involved new housing units, but a retroactive green light was also granted to 179 existing homes in the Ofarim settlement.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday he was ready to defend his bloody crackdown on illegal drugs, which has sparked U.S. and international concerns, when he meets with President Barack Obama on the sidelines of an Asian summit next week.
President Andrej Kiska named Arpad Ersek as Slovakia's new transport minister on Wednesday to shore up the governing coalition after a split in one of the four ruling parties. Prime Minister Robert Fico's leftist Smer party won a second consecutive term in an election in March but lost its parliamentary majority and had to form a coalition with three other parties. The previous transport minister, Roman Brecely, resigned on Tuesday after his centrist party Siet (Net), part of the five-month-old governing coalition, saw five out of its seven members of parliament bolt over internal disagreements.