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Palestinian jailed for role in deaths of three Israelis

Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach were killed in June. Credit: Reuters

A Palestinian man has been jailed for life for 'masterminding' the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli youths which set off a chain of events leading to the 50-day Gaza war last summer, Reuters reports.

The court found that Hussam Kawasmeh, who was reportedly a member of the militant Hamas Islamist group, planned the abduction in which Eyal Yifrach, 19, and Gilad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel, both 16, were shot dead while hitchhiking in the occupied West Bank in June.

Israeli media reports that the youths were found buried on land bought by Kawasmeh and he received 200,000 shekels to fund the attack which he used to buy the car used in the abductions along with weapons.

Two Hamas operatives suspected of having killed the teenagers died in a firefight with Israeli forces at their West Bank hideout in September.

Palestinian 'Santa Claus' tear-gassed by Israeli troops

A Palestinian protester dressed as Santa Claus was tear-gassed by Israeli troops and had to be carried to safety.

A protester dressed as Santa Claus has to be carried away by medics Credit: Reuters

The man was among hoards of people demonstrating against the Israeli settlements, demanding free movement for Palestinians during Christmas.

The protest, near a checkpoint in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, included many more wearing Santa-style hats and bearing banners reading: "We want Christmas without occupation".

The protesters were demanding free movement for Palestinians over Christmas Credit: Reuters

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Conflicting autopsy reports after death of Palestinian minister

Israeli and Palestinian officials have issued conflicting accounts over the results of an autopsy on a Palestinian minister who died after being shoved and grabbed by the neck by an Israeli policeman at a West Bank protest on Wednesday.

Ziad Abu Ein appears to be grabbed by an Israeli soldier during the protest. Credit: Reuters

Hussein al-Sheikh, a top Palestinian official, told Reuters that Jordanian and Palestinian doctors involved in the late night examination of the body said Ziad Abu Ein, 55, had died from being struck, inhaling tear gas and not receiving prompt medical attention.

But an Israeli medical source familiar with the autopsy results told Reuters the minister died from a heart attack which may have been brought on by the stress of being grabbed by the neck.

Two Palestinians shot dead after 'terror attack'

At least three people have been wounded in an attack near a synagogue in Jerusalem. Credit: APTN

Two Palestinian men armed with axes and knives wounded at least three people in a Jerusalem synagogue before they were shot dead by police officers, an Israeli police spokesman said.

A spokesman for Israel's ambulance service said medics were treating three people, and one person was critically wounded.

Media reports said more people at the scene were wounded.

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PM: 'I look forward to day when UK recognises Palestine'

David Cameron has said that he "looks forward to a day" when Britain recognises Palestine but told the House of Commons that it should be part of a two-state solution.

Of course I look forward to a day when Britain will recognise the state of Palestine.

But it should be part of the negotiations that bring about a two-state solution.

That is what we all want to see. A state of Israel living happily and peacefully beside the state of Palestine.

– David Cameron

Pope urges 'undaunted' Israel-Palestine peace talks

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Pope Francis and Israeli President Shimon Peres arrive in the Vatican Gardens. Credit: Reuters

Pope Francis told the Israeli and Palestinian presidents that they "must respond" to their people's yearning for peace in the Middle East and find "the strength to persevere in undaunted dialogue".

The pope made his appeal to Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas at the end of an unprecedented prayer meeting among Jews, Christians and Muslims in the Vatican gardens that marked the first time the two presidents have met in public in more than a year.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders 'accept' Pope's offer

The Israeli and Palestinian presidents said they have accepted Pope Francis' invitation to meet with him at the Vatican, the Associated Press reports:

Earlier Pope Francis offered his "home in the Vatican as a place for this encounter of prayer."

Netanyahu will 'not negotiate with Hamas-backed govt'

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Credit: Olivier Douliery/ABACAUSA.com

Israel's prime minister has criticised Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, saying that he could not say the Holocaust was "terrible" while attempting to seek the "destruction of Jewish people".

Mr Abbas commented earlier calling the Holocaust "the ugliest crime humanity has known in modern history", according to state media agency WAFA. Mr Netanyahu said he would not negotiate with a government that was "backed by Hamas".

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