Pence visits Western Wall after pro-Israel speech

US Vice President Mike Pence visits Jerusalem's Western Wall on January 23, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 23 January 2018
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Pence visits Western Wall after pro-Israel speech

JERUSALEM: US Vice President Mike Pence visited Jerusalem's Western Wall on Tuesday while Palestinians held a general strike after denouncing his fervently pro-Israel speech the previous day as "messianic".
The devout Christian's speech to the Israeli parliament on Monday laden with biblical references was praised by Israelis as perhaps the best they could ever hope for from a US administration, but Palestinians saw it as confirming some of their worst fears.
Pence proudly reaffirmed US President Donald Trump's December 6 declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and pledged to move the embassy to the disputed city by the end of 2019.
"The friendship between our peoples has never been deeper," he said.
On Tuesday, as he wrapped up his trip, Pence, who was boycotted by the Palestinians, visited one of the holiest sites in Judaism, the Western Wall.
The site lies in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, the sector the Palestinians want as the capital of their future state, and many Israelis were likely to interpret it as Pence further backing their claim over the entire city.
"Very inspiring," Pence said after the visit during which he was not accompanied by Israeli government officials.
Pence followed in the footsteps of Trump, who in May became the first sitting US president to visit the Western Wall.
In December, a US senior administration official said: "We cannot envision any situation under which the Western Wall would not part of Israel."
Pence also toured Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial accompanied by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday and met President Reuven Rivlin.
He said the White House believes the Jerusalem declaration "will set the table for the opportunity to move forward in meaningful negotiations to achieve a lasting peace and end the decades-long conflict".
He departed in the late afternoon to return to the United States.


At least 7 killed by car bomb in Benghazi, Libya

A historic building that was destroyed during a three-year conflict is seen in Benghazi, Libya, on February 28, 2018. A car bomb explodsion on a busy street in the center of Benghazi on Thursday night killed at least seven people. (REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori/File Photo)
Updated 25 May 2018
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At least 7 killed by car bomb in Benghazi, Libya

  • The bomb exploded behind the Tibesti hotel, the city’s biggest, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, on a street where people were taking a stroll after a day of fasting until sunset in the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
  • Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, is controlled by the Libyan National Army (LNA), the dominant force in eastern Libya led by commander Khalifa Haftar.

BENGHAZI, Libya: At least seven people were killed and 10 wounded when a car bomb exploded on a busy street in the center of the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Thursday night, a hospital medic said.
The bomb exploded behind the Tibesti hotel, the city’s biggest, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, on a street where people were taking a stroll after a day of fasting until sunset in the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
No more details on the bombing were immediately available. Eight cars parked on the street lined with shops were destroyed.
Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, is controlled by the Libyan National Army (LNA), the dominant force in eastern Libya led by commander Khalifa Haftar.
The LNA was battling Islamists, including some linked to Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, as well as other opponents until late last year in the Mediterranean port city.
Security has improved since then, but two mosque bombings earlier this year killed at least 35 people.
Haftar launched his military campaign in Benghazi in May 2014 in response to bombings and assassinations blamed on Islamist militants, part of anarchy that ensued after a NATO-backed uprising ended Muammar Qaddafi’s rule in 2011.
In the past few months, there have been occasional, smaller- scale bombings apparently targeting LNA allies or supporters, but attacks in the city center are rare (Reporting by Ayman Al-Warfalli)