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  • Blaming the U.S. and Europe for an economic crisis gripping his country of 144 million and warning the slump could drag on for two years,Putin today signaled a sustained standoff over Ukraine. 

    “He believes that the economy is capable of withstanding the shock,” said Alexei Makarkin, deputy director of the Moscow-based Center for Political Technologies. “Putin’s psychology is very simple. From his point of view Russia has made concessions for years and to no effect.” 

    Putin held his annual press conference, speaking to hundreds of reporters for more than three hours in an event that took on heightened importance as a 40-percent plunge in the ruble evoked memories of the country’s 1998 default.

  • op Hamas officials Ismail Haniyeh and Moussa Abu Marzouk | Photo credit: AFP

    Netanyahu is outraged: Hamas is a murderous terrorist group and we will continue to fight it • Hamas hails decision, though EU insists it is temporary, purely bureaucratic • Hamas assets to remain frozen for three months or until appeal.

    The European Union's second-highest court on Wednesday annulled the bloc's decision to keep Hamas on a list of terrorist organizations, but temporarily maintained the measures for a period of three months or until an appeal is closed.

    The General Court of the European Union said the contested measures were not based on an examination of Hamas' acts but on imputations derived from the media and the Internet.

    The court said it was nevertheless maintaining the effects of the measures in order to ensure that any possible future freezing of funds would be effective.

  • PM Netanyahu meets with Senator Joni Ernst‏ (KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

    Netanyahu: Too many in Europe have learned nothing from the slaughter of 6 million Jews

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the "staggering examples of European hypocrisy," that were exhibited Wednesday in the EU decisions to remove Hamas from the terror blacklist and to symbolically recognize a Palestinian state.

    Speaking ahead of a meeting with visiting Republican Senator Joni Ernst, Netanyahu said, "In Geneva they call for the investigation of Israel for war crimes while in Luxemburg the EU court removed Hamas from the terror list. Hamas that has committed countless war crimes and countless terror attacks."

    He referenced the Holocaust, saying that, "It seems that too many in Europe, on whose soil 6 million Jews were slaughtered, have learned nothing. But we in Israel, have learned.

    "We'll continue to defend our people and our state against the forces of terror and tyranny and hypocrisy," Netanyahu said.

  • Secretary Kerry meeting with Arab League leaders (Photo: AP)

    The United States will veto a proposed Palestinian resolution "to end the occupation" at the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday. According to Palestinian sources, Secretary of State John Kerry said that America will veto the Jordanian-backed proposal at a meeting with the top Palestinian negotiator. 

    It was not initially clear how the US would react to the proposal by the Palestinians after a shaky few months between US and Israeli relations. However, the US ultimately decided it would oppose the resolution, a unilateral move that would force a schedule for an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories.

    The Americans clarified that they do not automatically veto all resolutions on Israel, and that they examine each Security Council resolution based on its merit. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said that the US opposed pre-determining the outcome of the peace process and that a time table for the removal of security forces constituted a unilateral action. 

    At his Tuesday evening meeting with Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, Secretary Kerry said he opposed the Palestinian draft approved by the Arab League. He repeated the US decision to the foreign ministers of other world powers.

     

     

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Rome, Monday | Photo: AP

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Rome on Monday with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a bid to thwart a potential move at the U.N. to recognize a Palestinian state within two years, if peace talks fail to produce an agreement. 

    Netanyahu also recently spoke with French President Francois Hollande about this issue, and expressed his dissatisfaction with France's support for the U.N. initiative.

    In the meeting with Kerry on Monday, Netanyahu requested that the U.S. use its Security Council veto against a Palestinian resolution (which could be proposed on Wednesday) to set a two-year deadline for the establishment of a Palestinian state and an "end to the occupation."

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