Palestine

At a news conference Tuesday, Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled a controversial new campaign pledge: If reelected in next week's general election, the longtime Israeli prime minister said he plans to annex a significant chunk of the occupied West Bank.

"Today I announce my intention, upon forming the next government, to impose Israeli sovereignty on the Jordan Valley and the Northern Dead Sea," Netanyahu told reporters in Ramat Gan, a suburb of Tel Aviv, potentially staking out an official claim on roughly a third of the land in the West Bank.

Updated at 12:40 p.m. ET

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., says she's canceling her visit to Israel and the West Bank.

Israel's interior ministry announced Friday that it would allow Tlaib to enter the country as a private citizen to visit her aging grandmother, after it banned her and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., from going on a political trip amid pressure from President Trump.

The Israeli military said Monday that it had lifted restrictions allowing residents in southern Israel to resume daily activity after two days of intense and deadly fighting. To many, the move is an indication that a ceasefire between Israel and militant groups has been brokered — even if peace only holds temporarily.

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said that Egyptian mediators brokered the deal, The Associated Press reports. The militant group Islamic Jihad said a "mutual and concurrent" truce with Israel had been reached.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered "massive strikes" against militant groups in Gaza on Sunday in response to a barrage of rocket fire, stretching hostilities into a third day and leading to mounting casualties on both sides.

At a cabinet meeting on Sunday Netanyahu said he also instructed military leaders to boost tank artillery and infantry forces around the Gaza Strip.

"Hamas bears responsibility not only for its own attacks and actions but also those by Islamic Jihad, for which it pays a very high price," he said.

The U.S. officially shut down its Jerusalem Consulate General on Monday, severing a connection that for decades served as a direct link between Palestinians and Washington. The consulate's work is being folded into the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem — a move Palestinian officials have condemned.

The long-running consulate is being replaced by a Palestinian Affairs Unit that will operate in the same historic complex on Gerson Agron Street, several miles north of the embassy that opened last year to fanfare and controversy.

Two days after the U.S. opened its embassy in Jerusalem, Guatemala has moved its own embassy to the contested city.

Images of the Guatemalan, Israeli and U.S. flags were projected on walls of the Old City Tuesday night, in anticipation of Wednesday's inauguration.

The church marking the traditional site of Jesus' birth is getting an estimated $19 million makeover.

A layer of grime collected over the centuries has now been cleaned off, revealing dazzling mosaics from the 12th century.

Sholom Neistein

Mohamed Ghumrawi and Sholom Neistein have been friends for six years.

Sholom is Jewish. Mohamed is Muslim and of Palestinian descent. 

"I think it’s interesting how people perceive our friendship," says Mohamed, or Moe for short. "People see us and the first thing that comes to mind is, 'A Palestinian and an Israeli together? What? I must be in the "Twilight Zone".' ”

On Saturday, hundreds of Palestinians and concerned citizens gathered in front of the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale to protest for peace in the Gaza Strip. 

And on Sunday, thousands of Israelis and concerned citizens gathered in front of New World Symphony in Miami Beach -- to protest for peace in Israel. 

While the protesters differed in ideas of how the Palestinian-Israeli conflict should be handled, both sides wanted to see one thing: peace.

Today on WLRN-Miami Herald News, you heard:

Tinou Bao / Creative Commons//Flickr

Degrading Facebook comments about Palestinians caused two assistant Broward County public defenders to be fired on Tuesday.

The Facebook comments were published in a story by the Sun Sentinel, which discussed the recent kidnapping and murder of three Israeli boys by Islamic militant group Hamas. The remarks from assistant public defenders Gary Sheres and Bruce Raticoff referred to Palestinians as "filthy swine," "cockroaches," and even suggested they be "burn[ed] to the ground."

Courtesy photo / Palm Beach International Film Festival

The Palm Beach International Film Festival boasts a few star-studded indie films, but the schedule also is packed with a host of alternately gritty and inspirational documentaries featuring everyday folks in extraordinary circumstances. 

The festival, which kicked off on April 4, continues through Thursday. Every day, there are a dozen or so films screening at various theaters throughout Palm Beach County. You can't be everywhere at once, so below are four documentaries to consider making a priority at this year's festival.