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Israel (and Beyond) Live: A Quiet "Freeze" on Settlement Expansion?

1625 GMT:Egypt. In an apparent show of defiance of a report criticising Egypt's armed forces, President Morsi has promoted several generals.

A Government-commissioned report, portions of which have been leaked, has found that officers killed, tortured and abducted Egyptians during the 2011 uprising against the Mubarak regime and protests over the following two years.

Standing alongside members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Morsi said: "Any insult against the armed forces is an insult against all of us, and we reject any kind of insults....I announce this to the whole world: we appreciate the great role that the armed forces has been playing in maintaining the safety and security of this country."

Morsi promoted three major-generals to the honorific title of lieutenant-general.

As the President listened, the head of the armed forces, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, said:

The armed forces during the last two years was very, very fond of Egypt and the people of Egypt and did not commit any malpractices whatsoever. By God I swear that the army, since 25 January 2011, did not kill and did not order to kill, did not deceive and did not order to deceive.

1203 GMT:Saudi Arabia. On Monday, Arwa al-Hujaili, a King Abdulaziz University graduate from Jeddah, was the first woman to be licensed by the Justice Ministry as a legal trainee.

She will be allowed to practice law and, after a three-year apprenticeship, become a fully licensed lawyer.

Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, observed that “By licensing a female lawyer, Saudi Arabia has opened up a key profession to women.”

Although it was a welcome development, HRW noted that al-Hujaili would face many obstacles, including the common practice of segregating courts on lines of gender and discrimination by judges who possess wide discretion to remove any lawyer from cases before them.

Goldstein added that Al-Hujaili would “need protection from discrimination against women in the courtroom, freedom to travel and to drive, and the ability to make their own decisions about their work lives.”

1120 GMT:Mali. A report by Doctors Without Borders has warned that tens of thousands of refugees are suffering from “deplorable” conditions.

At least 74,000 Malians have been displaced by the ongoing violence within the country.

The report cites the case of the Mbera camp which has been struggling with just four latrines for 12,000 people; humanitarian standards state there should be one latrine for every 20 people.

1112 GMT:Yemen. Human Rights Watch has described President Hadi’s removal of security officials associated with the ousted Saleh regime (see 0933 GMT) as a “positive development” but noted that “shuffling them into cozy diplomatic posts abroad where they may be immune from prosecution could take them away from justice.”

Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East and North Africa director, said “If President Hadi is to break with the impunity of the past, he should ensure an independent investigation into the role of these men in the terrible crimes against his countrymen.”

1042 GMT:Bahrain. Police have fired tear-gas and sound bombs to disperse hundreds of protestors yesterday in the village of Khamis as they demonstrated against the organisers of the Formula One Grand Prix, which is being held there later this month.

Human Rights Watch also reported that authorities have been rounding up pro-democracy activists in order to pre-empt demonstrations during the Grand Prix.

0933 GMT: Yemen. In a major shake-up of the military, President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi has removed a number of top security officials with direct links to the ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

One of those to be removed was the former President’s son, Brigadier General Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh as head of the elite Republican Guard, who will now be appointed Ambassador to the UAE. Two nephews of the former President, who had served in the Presidential Guard and the intelligence service, were also removed

Ahmed Saleh’s rival, General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar was named Presidential adviser for military affairs.

0904 GMT: Bahrain. Talks in the "National Dialogue" have stalled after 11 rounds, with all sides rejecting each other’s proposals.

The talks, designed to break two years of political deadlock, stalled as Al Fateh --- a coalition of ten largely-Sunni political societies --- accused the opposition of seeking to delay any meaningful dialogue to prompt a political intervention by international organisations.

Eight delegates from the coalition including Al Fateh and from the opposition, eight MPs, and three Government ministers are involved in the talks.

0843 GMT:Egypt. The latest leak from a report, commissioned by President Morsi, on military and police malpractice since 2011....

The report reveals that, during demonstrations against military rule in May 2012, army doctors were ordered to operate on injured protestors without anaesthetic or sterilisation.

The report also stated that doctors, nurses, and senior offices beat some wounded protestors. It concludes by recommending that the higher echelons of Egypt’s military undergo investigation.

Commenting on the findings, Heba Morayef, the director of Human Rights Watch in Egypt, said "It's incredibly important. Until today, there has been no official state acknowledgement of excessive force on the part of the police or military. The army always said they took the side of protesters and never fired a bullet against them. This report is the first time that there has been any official condemnation of the military's responsibility for torture, killing, or disappearances."

0830 GMT:US and Arab World. As part of its Fiscal Year 2014 budget request, the State Department will ask for $580 million to set up a "Middle East and North Africa Fund".

The money will be used to "capitalize on the opportunities presented by the Arab Spring, supporting those countries that are moving to undertake the democratic and economic reforms necessary to address citizens' demand and provide lasting stability in the region."

At this stage it is unclear precisely how and where the money will be spent, but The Cable quotes an unnamed “senior state department official”, "At the end of the day, a lot of this is going to be driven by where we can make the biggest bang for the buck in terms of reform, what countries are interested in working with us.”

0815 GMT: Israel and Palestine. The Israeli site YNet claims, from "official sources", that West Jerusalem will freeze construction outside major settlement blocs in order to resume bilateral talks with the Palestinian Authority.

The claim follows this week's visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry to Israel and Palestine, as part of a renewed effort by Washington for Israeli-Palestinian discussion.

The sources said that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had demanded that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu present an outline for permanent borders. They said Netanyahu had rejected the demand.

However, a "senior official" said, "There won't be a de jure freeze, but quietly, quietly – construction outside the major blocs will be halted in order to resume negotiations. Israel will not make an official declaration but the move will be carried out on the sly as part of understandings between Israel and the US."

The official continued,"It will take a while, but eventually talks will resume. Now they [the Americans] are looking for a solution that will allow Abbas to save face. "

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